Regulators approve takeover bid for Hochtief

Spanish construction giant ACS was free Tuesday to launch formally a bid to take control of rival Hochtief and create one of the world's biggest building firms after receiving German regulatory approval.

Regulators approve takeover bid for Hochtief
Photo: DPA

Hochtief’s management has said that the offer undervalues Germany’s biggest construction firm. In spite of this, it has stopped short of publicly declaring the bid hostile.

ACS already owns a stake of just under 30 percent in Hochtief, which in turn controls Australia’s Leighton, and plans to offer eight of its shares for every five of those in Hochtief.

Germany’s financial regulator, Bafin, said late Monday that ACS’s offer was in accordance with German takeover law, although according to a statement, the Spanish firm had to make “significant improvements” to the bid.

The official bid acceptance period will begin once ACS publishes its offer, expected in early December. From then, Hochtief shareholders have four weeks to decide whether they wish to accept the offer.

ACS said in September it aimed to launch its all-share bid for the 70 percent of Hochtief that it currently doesn’t own. But it added that it aimed only to increase its stake to slightly above 50 percent, in order to consolidate Hochtief on its balance sheet.

In an attempt to stymie the deal and provide a “poison pill” for the Spanish, Hochtief applied to Australian regulators to force ACS to make a separate and expansive offer to buy Leighton in a separate additional deal.

However, Australia’s Takeover Panel rejected the request, and on Monday turned down an appeal by the German firm.


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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.