The head office of SNC Lavalin are seen Thursday, February 19, 2015 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

SNC-Lavalin selling 10% stake in Highway 407 in partial exit from Ontario project

OMERS will pay $3 billion to SNC on the closing of the deal and an additional $250 million over 10 years

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has signed a deal to sell the bulk of its stake in Ontario’s 407 toll highway operator for $3.25 billion, some of which will go toward a loan from Quebec’s pension fund.

The OMERS pension plan will buy a 10.01 per cent stake in 407 International Inc., reducing SNC-Lavalin’s interest to 6.76 per cent, according to an agreement announced Friday.

For more than six months, SNC-Lavalin has been mulling a partial sale to help pay down its loan from the Caisse, Quebec’s pension fund operator. The two-year-old loan stipulates that the company must keep its headquarters in Montreal until 2024, when the balance would be paid off.

A spokesman for the Caisse — by far the largest SNC-Lavalin shareholder at 20 per cent — said the sale does not alter that condition.

SNC-Lavalin had previously paid off $500 million of the $1.5-billion loan, and plans to use the proceeds from the 407 deal to pay down another $600 million upon closing, according to the company.

“This is a truly unique and exceptional asset that we believe has been undervalued by the market for many years,” SNC chief executive Neil Bruce said in a statement.

“Through this transaction, we are able to benefit from crystallizing some of this value, while retaining an interest in a successful Canadian infrastructure asset that we are proud to have helped build.”

READ MORE: New attorney general says he will resist pressure on SNC-Lavalin case

Analyst Yuri Lynk of Canaccord Genuity said in a research note that the sale has the effect of “immediately cleaning up” SNC’s balance sheet.

OMERS will pay $3 billion to SNC on the closing of the deal and an additional $250 million over 10 years, conditional on certain financial targets related to the performance of the toll highway.

The OMERS agreement with SNC is subject to certain rights of 407’s other shareholders, including rights-of-first refusal.

The other owners of the toll highway include a subsidiary of Ferrovial S.A., with a 43.23 per cent stake, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board with 40 per cent.

The deal is expected to close within two months.

Analysts say the transaction will yield net proceeds of $2.8 billion for SNC-Lavalin, assuming a tax rate of 13 per cent. The deal values the company’s total stake at about $27 per share, below the consensus of $28, according to analyst Benoit Poirier of Desjardins Securities.

He estimates the firm will put between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion toward share buybacks over the long term.

“Bottom line, while the valuation for SNC’s stake in Highway 407 is below expectations, we believe the net proceeds should help SNC to deleverage and benefit from the stock’s current valuation,” Poirier said in a note to investors.

The company’s shares have hovered near 10-year lows of around $34 since Feb. 11, when it slashed its profit forecast for 2018 by more than 40 per cent and halted all bidding on future mining projects.

That reduced guidance came two weeks after it halved its forecast from November amid a diplomatic feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia — a key source of oil and gas revenue — and delays on its project with Codelco, Chile’s state-owned copper mining company, which has since cancelled the contract.

Friday’s deal comes as the SNC-Lavalin affair in Ottawa continues to simmer following accusations that top government officials pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to veto federal prosecutors’ move to prosecute the company on corruption charges instead of negotiating a remediation agreement.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Williams Lake approves temporary liquor establishment area expansions due to COVID-19

Liquor Control and Regulation Branch issues application process for interested businesses

Williams Lake council seeks public feedback on First Nations shovel-ready cannabis facility

Williams Lake Indian Band’s farm-to-gate store will be built on First Nations land within city limits

Cariboo ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Flood watches issued for Quesnel, Horsefly Rivers

Flows rising in response to snowmelt and rainfall, continued rises expected

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Most Read