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Abertis Agrees to Buy 32% of Eutelsat for $1.4 Billion

Spanish infrastructure operator Abertis Infraestructuras said Tuesday it had agreed to acquire a 32% stake in satellite operator Eutelsat Communications from several investment funds for $1.4 billion (1.1 billion euros).

Abertis said in a filing lodged with the Spanish market regulator that it would pay $20.60 (15.50 euros) a share for the stake in the world's third-largest satellite operator by market share.

Investment funds controlled by Texas Pacific Group, Spectrum Equity Investors, Cinven Group Ltd. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. all sold minority stakes in the sale.

The acquisition, which will be carried out by Abertis' telecommunications unit Abertis Telecom SA, will be financed by a syndicated bridge loan, the Barcelona-based company said.

With a fleet of 23 satellites in geostationary orbit, Paris-based Eutelsat is the leading European satellite provider, with a market share of 30%, and a global market share of 13%.

Following the transaction, Abertis Telecom will become Eutelsat's single largest shareholder, ahead of French investment firm Eurazeo, which owns 25.5%.

Eutelsat also owns a 27.7% stake in Hispasat, a Spanish satellite service provider.

The transaction is subject to approval by antitrust regulators, Abertis said.

In its latest fiscal year, which ended June 30, Eutelsat posted a net profit, before items, of $135 milliom (102 million euros), on revenue of $1.05 billion.

About two-thirds of Eutelsat's revenue is generated from radio and television signal distribution services. The rest is from data transmission and Internet and cell phone services.

Abertis shares were suspended from trade before the announcement. The stock last traded at 21.43 euros ($28.53).