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Autogrill Buys World Duty Free, Full Control Of Aldeasa

Autogrill will buy World Duty Free from Ferrovial of Spain, as well as acquire full control of its joint venture Aldeasa, for a total of €990 million, or $1.5B. The acquisitions make it the world’s top airport retailer.

The move does not come as a surprise, as the company started to put together €1B of financing late last month.

Autogrill purchased World Duty Free from Ferrovial for €715M, which should allow the Spanish company toward refinancing £9B to £10B in debt related to its purchase of British airports operator BAA in 2006. It also entered a 12-year concession agreement with BAA.

Autogrill also purchased the 49.95% stake it didn’t own in Aldeasa from Altadis, now controlled by Imperial Tobacco Group after a takeover. Under the terms of the agreement, Autogrill will pay Altadis €275M in cash. The transaction still must be cleared by the European Competition Commission.

 “Through these transactions Autogrill becomes the world’s leading provider in the fast-growing airport retail market. We are excited to welcome WDF and its employees in our Group,” says Gianmario Tondato Da Ruos, chief executive officer of Autogrill. “At the same time, I am extremely pleased to continue to strengthen our collaboration with colleagues at Aldeasa, with whom we have achieved important results.”

Autogrill, which operates restaurants on motorways and in airports, said it expected annual synergy benefits between Aldeasa, World Duty Free and Alpha Group, which it acquired last year, of about €40M by 2011. It said the acquisitions would add to earnings from 2009 and be neutral this year.

Autogrill, 57.1% controlled by Italy’s Benetton family through a holding company, said the transactions would be funded through “fully committed new debt facilities,” granted by BNP Paribas, Intesa Sanpaolo, Royal Bank of Scotland and UniCredit.

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