* Hochtief sells airports to Canada's PSP Investment
* Deal retroactively takes effect Jan. 1
* Hochtief sees no one-off impact on earnings
* Shares gain 4.4 percent
FRANKFURT, May 7 Hochtief said it sold
its airports unit to Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment
Board for 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), to help fund a shift
towards ground transportation and energy infrastructure.
The division has holdings in airports in Budapest,
Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Tirana, said the German
builder, which is controlled by Spain's ACS.
It also sold Athens Airport as part of the transaction,
which will take retroactive effect from Jan. 1 this year, even
though it had previously taken that hub out of the bundle,
citing economic troubles in Greece.
Hochtief Chief Executive Marcelino Fernandez Verdes, who
took the top job in November, is leading a drive to shed
airports and real estate development businesses to cut the
company's debt while making it a leading global infrastructure
Relief over the end of more than three years of unsuccessful
attempts to divest the unit boosted Hochtief shares, which were
up 4.4 percent at 0721 GMT.
Hochtief had halted the sale early last year when it was
unable to fetch a price of 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), but
later revived its efforts.
"The transaction is the result of a very competitive
tendering process. We will use the released funds as planned to
reduce debt and to invest in the operating infrastructure
business," said CEO Verdes.
Hochtief, which is due to report first-quarter results later
on Tuesday, added that it expected no significant extraordinary
earnings impact from the transaction.
"The fact that the airport assets are going to be disposed
completely after such a long time is positive news and should
outweigh possible discussions on the pricing," said DZ-Bank
analyst Marc Nettelbeck.