(Recasts, adds details)
MADRID May 14 Spanish construction company ACS
posted a 12 percent rise in first-quarter core profit
thanks to strong earnings from its overseas divisions,
particularly German builder Hochtief.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 744 million euros ($966 million),
though net profit fell 19 percent to 168 million euros because
of one-off gains booked at the beginning of 2012 from the sale
of services company Clece.
ACS, which has focused on overseas expansion to reduce its
exposure to recession-hit Spain, said it cut net debt to 6
billion euros by March 31, down 43 percent on last year thanks
to a 2012 restructuring of debt related to stake-building in
power company Iberdrola.
ACS borrowed to buy Iberdrola shares with the aim of
diversifying, but it had to cut its stake after the value of
Iberdrola dropped sharply last year.
The builder now owns about 1 percent of Iberdrola.
Previously, the company had owed 4 billion euros on a 14.85
percent stake. ACS posted a net loss in 2012 after writing down
the value of its Iberdrola investment.
ACS said it will continue to reduce debt this year through
the sale of non-core assets, aiming for a net debt ratio of less
than two times EBITDA.
($1 = 0.7705 euros)
(Reporting By Sonya Dowsett; Editing by David Goodman)