M&A - Europe

Odebrecht selling Peru irrigation business to Brookfield, Suez

LIMA, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian engineering group Odebrecht SA said it has agreed to sell its Olmos irrigation business in Peru to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP and Suez SA for an undisclosed sum.

The announcement follows Odebrecht’s failed attempt to sell its majority stake in a $5 billion natural gas pipeline project in Peru to Sempra Energy, which backed out of a deal on worries it could be held liable for any corruption.

Odebrecht is at the center of Brazil’s biggest graft scandal and is trying to sell off its assets to pay down its bloated debt.

Olmos was one of Odebrecht’s landmark projects in Peru, where the family-owned company has had an outsized presence in construction ventures. It required building a 20-kilometer (12-mile) tunnel through the Andes to transport water for irrigation of some 43,500 hectares (107,500 acres) of agricultural fields in the desert.

Olmos is selling its right to maintain the tunnel and operate the irrigation business, the company said in a statement late on Friday.

Odebrecht did not say how much it was selling Olmos for or what stake Brookfield and Suez would have in it. In 2013 Odebrecht said the project would cost at least $500 million.

The acquisition must be approved by creditors and the regional government of Lambayeque in northern Peru, Odebrecht said. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Hugh Lawson)