Paris-based Vinci Group, already Europe’s largest construction business, is looking to buy most of the industrial services activities of Spain’s Grupo ACS for $6.1 billion, with at least $3.3 billion in cash.

ACS’s directors have agreed to negotiate VINCI’s non-binding offer for ACS Servicios, Communaciones y Energia S.A. The acquisition would include  a business with $7.4 billion of sales last year, including interests in eight mainly energy-related public-private partnerships and a renewable energy development business.

Employing over 46,000 staff, the ACS industrial services unit focuses on development, construction, maintenance and operation of energy, industrial and mobility infrastructure. It generated 17% of ACS group sales last year, with more than 60% from outside Spain. The unit also accounted for 22% of group gross operating profit, representing a 10.6% margin.

VINCI’s offer does not include ACS’s Zero-E division, created last year to float renewable energy assets in the public stock market, nor does it include 15 other P3 operations.

If completed, the deal would raise VINCI’s sales to over $70 billion.

The French company ranks third on ENR’s current Top 250 Global Contractors list, reporting $54.6 billion in 2019 worldwide construction revenue, about half outside France. 

With COVID-19 impacts, Vinci’s sales fell about 17%, to $6.8 billion in the first half of 2020, it told ENR in August. Revenue in France, accounting for nearly half the total, dropped by over 27%. Business outside the home base fell by only around 5%. The pandemic also fueled a half-year loss of $378 million, down from a $75-million profit last year, the firm said.

ACS ranks seventh, reporting $45 billion in revenue last year, with $39 billion of that outside Spain. The total does not include revenue of its German subsidiary Hochtief A.G., which ranks at No. 11.

The Spanish firm ranks first in revenue among firms working in Latin America, second in Australia and third in Canada. It also ranks first among global water sector contractors, first for those in the industrial sector, nine in waste cleanup and wastewater work and tenth for firms in manufacturing  .

ACS reported last month a sharp drop in first-half profit and a loss in its Australian subsidiary CIMIC, Reuters said.