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Esther Koplowitz reinforces her alliance with Ibersuizas and ushers in the Gaustino Group


Esther Koplowitz reinforces her alliance with Ibersuizas and ushers in the Gaustino Group

Esther Koplowitz and the Faustino Group closed their agreement on ingress in the capital of B-1998, S.L., the prime shareholder (owning 52.4% of the capital) at Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC).

Working through its subsidiary Larranza XXI, the Faustino Group invested onehundred million euros in taking a holding of 5.33% in B-1998. The investment is acknowledged as a long-term commitment, since, as the National Securities Market Commission has been informed, call and put options are being given on the holding that are good up to the year 2017.

Bringing this new partner into B-1998's capital lends added solidity to the strategy Esther Koplowitz announced in July last to consolidate a diversified, stable, solvent set of shareholders for the controlling partner in FCC.

The group from La Rioja will send one representative to B-1998's board and one to FCC's board.

The price of the transaction was set using 30.5 euros per underlying share in FCC, equivalent to its volume-weighted average price over the last six months calculated in mid-December 2004.

Ibersuizas enlarges its holdings

In a separate parallel move, B-1998 also informed the National Securities Market Commission that the investors in Ibersuizas have upped the holding they achieved in July last (12.3%) to a final figure of 15.56% of B-1998; this strengthens the alliance and is a fresh show of its confidence in FCC's performance.

The transaction, which was closed under the same price conditions as the Larranza XXI transaction, calls for the purchase of an additional 3.25% of B-1998, requiring a 61-million-euro investment.

The purchase of the new holdings was made by Cartera Deva, Ibersuizas Holdings, Inversiones Ibersuizas and Inversiones San Felipe, plus Arzubi Inversiones and EBN Banco de Negocios, who are newcomers to B-1998's capital.

After the purchase, Inversiones Ibersuizas, San Felipe, Arzubi and EBN will contribute their holdings to Ibersuizas Holdings.

The twelve-member Board of Directors of B-1998 is now therefore made up of nine members appointed by Esther Koplowitz, two appointed by Ibersuizas, one appointed by Peugeot and one appointed by the Faustino Group. FCC's Board of Directors, currently counting fifteen members, will grow to sixteen with the incorporation of the director appointed by the new investor, Larranza XXI.

The transaction means no changes in the composition of FCC's board, exceptfor one new member to be proposed by Larranza XXI.

After these transactions, B-1998's capital is now distributed as follows:

* Esther Koplowitz: 73.37% (direct and indirect holdings)

* Ibersuizas Group: 15.56% total; distributed among:

. Cartera Deva (5% ) e Ibersuizas: 10,55%

* Simante, S.L. (Peugeot Family): 5.72%.

* Larranza XXI, S.L. (Faustino Group): 5.33%.

The Faustino Group is the leading business group in high-end winemaking and management of appellation-approved wineries. With six prestigious cellars in the appellation regions of La Rioja, Navarra, La Mancha and soon Ribera del Duero, the Faustino Group owns 1,522 hectares of its own vineyards, 89,700 casks and over 12 million bottles in stock. According to 2003 figures, the group made over 18 million kilos of grapes into wine, generated 90 million euros in turnover and sent 42% of its production abroad to a total of 67 countries.

EBN is a firm specialising in private banking. Its shareholders are Unicaja, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM), Ibercaja, Caja Duero, Caixa Balears (Sa Nostra) and Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires.

Arzubi Inversiones is, on the other hand, a member of the Cartera Deva business group.