Impregilo shareholders approve merger with Salini
* Merger to create a global construction player
* Company to start operating as merged group from 2014
* Merged group to start looking at free float from next yr
MILAN, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The shareholders of Impregilo on Thursday approved the Italian builder's tie-up with its family-owned peer Salini to create a global player in the construction sector, with the merger to be finalised by the end of this year.
The merger will create a group focused on large civil engineering projects from roads to hydroelectric dams in over 60 countries, including the Middle East, the Americas and Australia.
The unlisted Salini, which took over Impregilo earlier this year and now owns 88.83 percent, has said the combined group would yield annual synergies of about 100 million euros ($133 million) and would improve its access to capital markets.
Impregilo Chairman Claudio Costamagna said on Thursday the company would start next year looking at ways to increase the group's free float because it intends to retain its listing on the Milan stock exchange after the merger.
When an Italian company owns more than 90 percent of the equity of another, it has to either buy the rest of the shares, or restore a free-float of more than 10 percent. If the company wants to remain in Milan's blue-chip index, it needs a free float of at least 15 percent.
A capital hike may be one of the options the company will consider to increase the free float, Costamagna said.
Salini Impregilo, as the new company will be called from now on, could gradually get to a free float of 25 percent, Impregilo's Chief Executive Pietro Salini said in June.
He later added that the Salini family could consider cutting its stake in Impregilo to below 50 percent should growth opportunities arise in the future.
The stock was up 1.3 percent at 3.43 euros by 1217 GMT, compared with a flat DJ Global Industrials Index. The stock is up 44 percent in the year to date. ($1 = 0.7518 euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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