February 7, 2018 / 7:57 AM / in 3 months

Spain's Abertis 2017 profit up 13 percent on year earlier

MADRID, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Spanish toll-road operator Abertis, at the centre of a 17.1-billion-euro ($21 billion) takeover battle, reported a 13 percent rise in yearly profit on Wednesday as traffic volumes rose on its highways from Spain to India.

Italian airports and motorway operator Atlantia and Germany’s Hochtief, majority owned by Spanish builder ACS, are both vying to take over the Spanish company.

Abertis, which announced a new chief executive officer late on Tuesday, reported net profit for 2017 of 897 million euros, slightly missing a Reuters polled forecast of 914 million euros.

The toll road and telecommunications company said on Tuesday Chief Financial Officer Jose Aljaro would take up the position of chief executive officer at Abertis, with Francisco Reynes leaving to take up the chairman role at Spanish energy company Gas Natural.

Abertis and Gas Natural gave no reason for the personnel changes. Both companies share Criteria - the holding company that controls Caixabank - as a common shareholder.

Abertis trades at 20.3 times estimated 2018 earnings, compared to 17.5 times for French infrastructure giant Vinci and 18.5 times for would-be suitor, Italy’s Atlantia.

Abertis builds and maintains highways in Spain, France, Latin America and the United States. It also has a telecommunications division that manages and operates satellite infrastructure. ($1 = 0.8114 euros) (Reporting By Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Paul Day)

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