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UPDATE 1-Hastings to sell Hochtief airports stake-sources
* Hastings funds own 50 pct stake in HTAC
* Stake could be worth A$382 million
* Sale would help Hochtief with concessions sale, ACS battle (Adds detail)
By Greg Roumeliotis and Matthias Inverardi
AMSTERDAM/DUESSELDORF, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Hastings Funds Management is looking to sell its 50 percent stake in Hochtief Airport Capital (HTAC), a move that could help German builder Hochtief (HOTG.DE) with the sale of its concessions unit, sources said.
Infrastructure funds managed by Hastings, including its listed Australian Infrastructure Fund (AIF) (AIX.AX), own 50 percent of HTAC which, in turn, owns stakes in international airports in Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Athens, where Hochtief also has stakes through its Hochtief Concessions unit.
Sources familiar with the matter said on Monday no buyer for the 50 percent stake had yet been found but Hastings was liaising with Hochtief's management so a sale could show value in the airports to boost the German builder's chances of a sale of the concessions unit in 2011. [ID:nLDE6A92N2]
Hastings and Hochtief were not available for comment.
According to AIF, its 40 percent stake in HTAC was valued at A$305 million ($301 million) at the end of June. With a similar valuation for the remaining 10 percent stake of Hastings, the 50 percent stake in HTAC could be worth A$382 million.
Separately on Monday, Qatar said it was to buy a 9.1 percent stake in Hochtief for 400 million euros ($530 million), adding muscle to the German builder's fight against a hostile takeover approach from Spanish rival ACS (ACS.MC). [ID:nLDE6B50SX]
If Hastings managed to sell its stake in HTAC at a good price, Hochtief could argue that its airport stakes have more value than the market accounts for, boosting its share price and helping it fend off ACS.
But infrastructure fund sources said Hastings was facing a tough pitch in the sale.
This is because airports are seen as volatile infrastructure assets due to traffic variations and investors may demand control in their management. A 50 percent stake in HTAC provides only minority participations in them.
This is the same criticism that Hochtief faced when its concessions unit's initial public offering (IPO) failed a year ago. Sources said Hastings was prepared not to sell and could possibly add HTAC to a new infrastructure fund it was preparing.
Hochtief used HTAC in 2005 to sell stakes in its airports to Hastings, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and KfW IPEX Bank in a 343 million euro deal. HTAC generated a negative 1.1 percent return for the year, according to AIF's 2010 report. (Editing by Dan Lalor and David Cowell) ($1 = 1.013 Australian dollars = 0.7541 euro)
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