(Recasts to add details on purchase, comments throughout)
By Dominique Vidalon and Guillermo Parra-Bernal
PARIS/SAO PAULO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Private French equity firm Ardian SARL will pay 145.5 million euros ($182 million) for the 65 percent stake in Spanish toll-road operator Tunels Barcelona e Cadí held by Brazilian investment banking firm Grupo BTG Pactual SA.
Ardian said on Wednesday that Spanish toll-road operator Abertis SA, which owns the remaining 35 percent stake in Tunels, will continue to operate the asset. The two companies are partners in two similar projects in France and Spain.
Ardian paid the equivalent of 2.46 times the price that São Paulo-based BTG Pactual paid for the stake in Tunels Barcelona, the Brazilian investment bank said in a separate statement. Catalonia's regional government had sold the two assets that comprise Tunels Barcelona to BTG Pactual and Abertis in 2012 under a concession agreement that expires in 2037.
The acquisition "highlights our strategy of working in long-term partnerships with major industrial players on infrastructure," said Mathias Burghardt, head of infrastructure at Ardian, which is the former private equity arm of insurer AXA SA and oversees more than $50 billion in assets.
The concession allows for the maintenance and operation of the 7.2-mile (11-1/2 kilometer) Tunel de Vallvidrera and access roads opened in 1991, and the 16-mile Tunel del Cadí and access roads opened in 1984. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
The sale of the stake signals a shift in BTG Pactual's interest in infrastructure projects back to Latin America, where Brazil, Chile, Peru and others are undertaking massive projects, Renato Mazzola, the company's head of infrastructure, said in an interview.
"The deal was opportunistic and it helped us obtain an important result in a short period of time," Mazzola said.
He added that port, telecommunications and urban mobility investments present the "best opportunities for new businesses".
BTG Pactual is controlled by Brazilian billionaire financier André Esteves.
$1=0.8008 euros Additional reporting by Aluísio Alves in Sào Paulo; Editing by Alexandria Sage; and Peter Galloway