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Aug 7, 2019

CPPIB to take control of Highway 407 after SNC sale

SNC should look to Home Capital's playbook to bring back confidence: Shareholder


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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is set to become the controlling shareholder in the 407 International Inc. highway after an Ontario court ruled in its favor, allowing it to buy a stake from embattled engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.TO)

SNC-Lavalin agreed to sell a 10.01 per cent stake in the Toronto toll road for as much as $3.25 billion in cash to the Canadian pension fund, the Montreal-based engineering company said in a statement Wednesday.

The court ruling marks the end of a conflict among the shareholders of the 108-kilometer (67-mile) highway. SNC announced in April it had agreed to sell the stake to OMERS, another Canadian pension fund. Spanish builder Ferrovial SA and CPPIB stepped in to exercise their rights to match the OMERS offer. The court ruled that Ferrovial had waived its right of first refusal through a prior agreement, paving the way for CPPIB to increase its stake to 50.1 per cent, from 40 per cent. Ferrovial’s Cintra unit will still own 43 per cent, with SNC’s stake cut to 7 per cent following the sale.

SNC-Lavalin will get $3.25 billion in gross proceeds, of which $3 billion will be paid at the closing date and $250 million over 10 years, conditional on financial results for the 407 ETR, SNC said in the statement.

Net proceeds will be used to reduce SNC’s leverage. SNC’s stock plunged to a 15-year low Tuesday after its largest shareholder said the firm’s performance is of “growing concern” following a series of profit warnings.

SNC’s shares rose as much as 8.1 per cent to $17.68 at 12:16 a.m. in Toronto. The stock has declined 62 per cent this year.