Autogrill moves to take over Alpha Airports

LONDON Mon Jun 4, 2007 7:08am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Italy's Autogrill ALG.MI, the world's biggest caterer for travelers, said on Monday it was launching an offer for the shares in British airline services firm Alpha Airports AAP.L that it does not already own.

Autogrill, which sells food and drink along motorways and in railway stations and airports in 33 countries, said it had bought a further 22.5 million shares in Alpha Airports at 110 pence apiece, taking its stake to 42.7 percent, and that it would make an offer for the rest of the stock at the same price.

"The board of Alpha Airports has indicated that it intends to recommend such an offer," it said in a statement.

An offer at 110 pence a share would value Alpha Airports at about 193 million pounds ($384 million).

However, Autogrill had already bought blocks of Alpha Airports shares last week at 95 pence and 100 pence.

Alpha Airports provides in-flight catering and retail services, as well as running duty-free shops at airports. It made a profit before tax and exceptional items of 16 million pounds in the year ended January 31 on revenue of 561.5 million.

Autogrill, whose catering contracts include the cafeteria at the Louvre museum in Paris, made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 514.1 million euros ($691 million) in 2006 on revenue of 3.9 billion euros.

It is 57.1 percent controlled by the Benetton family through the holding company Schematrentaquattro,

At 0720 GMT Autogrill shares were up 0.3 percent at 15.07 euros. Alpha Airports shares were up 7.5 percent at 108 pence, after touching a nine-year high of 110 pence.

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