(Adds background, details on Almeida family, share performance in paragraphs 4-8)
By Tatiana Bautzer
SAO PAULO, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Italy’s Gruppo Gavio and France’s Vinci SA are interested in a stake in toll road operator EcoRodovias Infraestrutura & Logística SA , whose owner needs to raise cash to pay debt, five sources with direct knowledge of the situation said.
Infrastructure companies Gavio, Vinci and Atlantia SpA are on a short list to present binding proposals for the 63.99 percent that Brazil’s Almeida family have in EcoRodovias through investment holding company Primav, according to the sources who requested anonymity because negotiations are underway.
The Almeidas are considering either a partial sale of their stake or their full exit, the sources added. Other parties that have analyzed a deal include local rivals Arteris SA and CCR SA and Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc, they added.
A potential sale of control in EcoRodovias and plans to dispose of some assets could help stoke the company’s shares, according to analysts including JPMorgan Securities’ Fernando Abdalla.
Shares of São Paulo-based EcoRodovias rallied 5.4 percent on Tuesday. They had tumbled 48 percent this year.
Gavio confirmed it is analyzing the deal. Atlantia, Vinci, Arteris, Brookfield, CCR and Primav, which holds the controlling stake in Ecorodovias, did not comment.
The Almeidas are disposing of their stake to pay 2 billion reais in bank loans they took to buy out Impregilo SpA three years ago, they said. While the stake is worth 1.8 billion reais ($467 million) at current market prices, the Almeidas want a “substantial premium” for surrendering control of Brazil’s No. 2 toll road operator, two sources said.
Italy’s Gavio was a major shareholder in Impregilo when the latter shared control of EcoRodovias with the Almeidas, and still has a close relationship with the Brazilian family, one source noted.
EcoRodovias owns some of the largest toll road operations in São Paulo state, Brazil’s wealthiest and most populous, including the Anchieta/Imigrantes and the Ayrton Senna/Carvalho Pinto highway systems. It also operates a 13.3 kilometer-long (8.25 miles) bridge connecting Rio de Janeiro and the coastal city of Niteroi.
Banco Bradesco BBI, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Grupo BTG Pactual SA are advising the Almeidas and Primav on the sale. ($1 = 3.8490 Brazilian reais) (Additional reporting by Aluísio Alves in São Paulo; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Jeffrey Benkoe)