Vice-President and Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, said the Spanish government was analyzing whether it could act within the “vigilance framework regarding investment in strategic sectors” created by the crisis, to prevent Ferrovial from leaving for the Netherlands.
More specifically, the Government of Spain will analyze whether “express authorization from the Council of Ministers is necessary or whether the decision can be taken without any problems and [a empresa ser] transferred to another EU country [União Europeia]”.
However, the obstacle will not be easy, unnamed sources in the legal sector told the Spanish newspaper “Expansion”.
At issue is a measure approved in 2020, shortly after the first confinement of the Coronavirus, which suspended the freedom of companies to make investments in strategic sectors, to prevent large Spanish companies from being bought by foreign companies (including companies from the European Union, provisionally) at balanced prices. The measure was extended in December for another two years, through 2024.
As the newspaper explained, when a foreign investor intends to acquire more than 10% of a listed company in key sectors (such as energy, communications, infrastructure, defense or media), he must first request an authorization from the Council of Ministers.
But the departure of Ferrovial to the Netherlands does not seem to meet the requirements that the Cabinet will have to analyze, since the Dutch company that will absorb Ferrovial has the same shareholders and there is no foreign shareholder in the group with more than 10% (the largest shareholder is TCI with 6.5%). It should be remembered that Ferrovial is the “parent company” and that the company in the Netherlands has only put together international business since 2018 (before, the company that owns this domain was based in the UK).
The government will have to make a very broad interpretation of the regulation so that the Ferrovial merger can pass through the Cabinet. In principle, the company does not intend to apply for this authorization.
In addition to Ribera, the country’s Minister of Economy, Nadia Calvino, has already refused to move Ferrovial’s headquarters, which in her opinion “has nothing to do with any action or omission on the part of the executive”, because “Spanish companies and companies are doing well with this government”.
Previously, the Minister for Social Rights, Ioni Pilara, called Ferrovial a “piracy company” and the Spanish chief executive, Pedro Sanchez, accused the company’s president, Rafael del Pino, of lack of commitment to the state.
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