Benefitting from lax German laws on hostile corporate takeovers as well as a lack of government resistance to foreign acquisitions, Spanish construction firm Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA edged closer to taking majority control of Hochtief AG, Germany's largest construction group, before Hochtief's May 12 shareholder meeting. Herbert Luetkestratkoetter, CEO since 2007, will resign, a step he announced on April 11. CFO Burkhard Lohr will leave in October. Frank Stieler, a former Siemens executive who runs Hochtief's European business, is backed by ACS and will be Hochtief's new CEO.
ACS Chairman Florentino Pérez says the play for Hochtief is “the most important strategic maneuver undertaken by our group in recent years.” ACS became Hochtief's largest shareholder in 2007, when it bought a 25% stake for $1.26 billion; as of April 11, that increased to 42.6%, when ACS bought up Hochtief shares in the open market after the German firm rejected an ACS buyout offer in February. Hochtief officials “fail to comprehend” how “a possible consolidation of Hochtief by ACS could also improve Hochtief's competitive position,” ACS told shareholders.