ASTM sale of Impregilo shares seen ending fight for control

MILAN (Reuters) - Motorway company ASTM <ATMI.MI> has decided to tender almost all of its 29.9 percent stake in Impregilo <IPGI.MI> to a bid launched by Salini, drawing a line under a long fight to control Italy's biggest builder.

ASTM, controlled by the Gavio family, said in a statement on Monday the stake was no longer strategic and it would keep 1.99 percent of the builder as a pure financial investment.

Salini, a family-owned construction company, is paying 4 euros (3.4 pounds) per share in cash for the 70 percent of Impregilo it does not already own. The bid, one of Italy's largest M&A operations in recent years, values Impregilo at 1.6 billion euros.

The two prominent families in Italy's construction business have clashed for months over plans to dominate Impregilo but in a key development in July Salini obtained board control, winning an edge over its rival.

ASTM, advised by Nomura, said the price offered by Salini was in the lower part of a valuation range of between 3.82 euros and 4.71 euros per share indicated by its advisors.

The takeover is part of plans by Salini to merge the companies and create a global construction player focused on large civil engineering projects from roads to hydroelectric dams in more than 60 countries.

The merger is estimated to yield synergies of about 100 million euros.

Hostility between Salini and Gavio was seen as damaging for the company because legal infighting distracted management and analysts saw the takeover bid as a good way out for Gavio.

ASTM said on Monday it would cash in about 450 million euros by tendering the shares, booking a net gain of 68 million euros.

The offer is for the shares including any jumbo dividend which Impregilo had planned to pay using the proceeds from the sale of its stake in Brazilian motorway EcoRodovias <ECOR3.SA>.

In an interview with Reuters in March, Salini said new contracts with Impregilo were expected to exceed 10 billion euros by 2015.

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by David Cowell)