July 26, 2017 / 6:56 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Abertis' core profit rises as takeover battle looms

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MADRID, July 26 (Reuters) - Spanish toll road firm Abertis on Wednesday posted a 17 percent rise in first-half core profit, potentially adding fuel to a looming takeover battle between Atlantia and ACS.

The Barcelona-based group, which saw earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) coming in at 1.76 billion euros ($2.05 billion), said the good performance was the result of rising traffic and new acquisitions.

Revenues were up 20 percent to 2.7 billion euros in the same period.

Italian peer Atlantia has made a $18 billion takeover offer for Abertis to create the world’s biggest toll road operators, with more than 13,000 kms (8,000 miles) of motorway in France, Spain and Italy as well as Latin America.

Criteria, Abertis’ largest shareholder with a stake of 22.3 percent, has yet to say whether it accepts or rejects the offer, which has raised eyebrows in Madrid.

Meanwhile, Spanish building and infrastructure firm ACS said earlier this week it was studying a counter-bid for Abertis, though sources familiar with the matter cautioned nothing was imminent.

Traffic rose across the group’s main markets. It was up 5.9 percent in Spain, 4.8 percent in Chile, 3.9 percent in Italy, 2 percent in Brazil and 1.9 percent in France. ($1 = 0.8598 euros) (Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Paul Day)

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