US billionaire Bill Gates bought 6% of FCC on Monday. The Spanish construction company said the purchase made the entities linked to the co-founder of Microsoft the second biggest shareholder of FCC after Spanish businesswoman Ester Koplowitz.
Foreign operations in Spain are mainly focused on energy and banking sectors, or in those assets that are on sale due to indebtedness and fragile balances. FCC operation summarizes the situation of the Spanish companies, which are forced to sell assets so as to reduce their debts and seek investment capital.
The case of FCC illustrates how foreign investment operations in Spain work. The Spanish construction company made it possible for Veolia Environment (France) to buy 50% of Proactiva Medio Ambiente for €209 million. Along the same line, the investment fund Bain Capital (US) bought Atento –Telefonica’s call center, for around €1 billion.
The above mentioned are examples of the foreign investors’ interest on the Spanish companies over the last months, and the most interesting fact is that Spanish firms have demonstrated an unprecedented willingness to facilitate the entry to international partners and investors.
This trend will go on over the coming months, and the main characteristics of these foreign investment operations are as follows: they want access to strategic sectors, which have been traditionally protected (energy, banking); and they take advantage of companies that need to sell assets due to their inner fragility.
It would be more than desirable to take measures to allow international financial investment, which is now arriving to Spain “from everywhere.” Such investment should find incentives to encourage long-term productive operations.