Bill Gates takes stake in Spanish construction firm

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MADRID: US billionaire Bill Gates snapped up a 113.5-million-euro ($155 million) stake in Spanish construction and services group FCC, sending its shares soaring more than 10 percent on Tuesday.

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FCC stock leapt 11.74 percent to 17.55 euros in the first half hour of trade in Madrid, the first market reaction to Gates’ purchase of a 6-percent stake in the company, making him the second-largest shareholder.

Gates’ investment was announced by FCC several hours after the close of trade on Monday.

The international construction and water and waste services group said that the stake had been bought by “one or more entities linked to William H. Gates 3rd.”

FCC shares climbed 5.42 percent on Monday before the Gates investment was officially revealed to the stock market.

Gates’ funds are now the second-largest investor in FCC after the group’s president, Spanish philanthropist Esther Koplowitz, said a spokesman for FCC.

FCC won in July a 6.07-billion-euro project to build three metro lines in Ryadh.

Among its other worldwide projects, FCC is rebuilding the historic 1960s Gerald Desmond bridge in Los Angeles, and building a metro in Panama, the first in Central America.

The group announced a loss of 607.6 million euros in the first half of this year, compared to a 53.4-million-euro net profit a year earlier, largely because of the collapse of its fully owned Austrian subsidiary Alpine Bau.

FCC has sought to diversify away from Spain, mired in a double-dip recession since a property and construction bubble imploded in 2008.

AFP

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