State Grid Corp., China’s government controlled power-grid operator, said Tuesday it would buy high-voltage electricity transmission assets in Brazil from Spain’s Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA for 1.86 billion reais ($938.2 million), including debt. The deal is State Grid’s second investment in Brazil and its fourth major investment overseas, and is the most recent in a string of deals in which a European company has looked to exit an investment amid financial troubles facing the region. ACSs standing has weaken because of its debts and the falling value of investments made during Spain’s boom years. Chairman Florentino Pérez, who is also the president of Spain’s soccer club Real Madrid CF, led ACS’s expansion when liquidity was abundant and Spain’s economy was booming on the back of a real-estate bubble that imploded about five years ago. As credit dried up, ACS began to cut down on debt by shedding assets. ACS currently has more than €9.33 billion ($11.70 billion) in debt, about a half of what it had a few years ago.
Other southern European companies have also been selling their crown jewels abroad to raise cash. Portugal, for example, is attracting significant investments from China because of its presence in former colonies that are resurfacing as high-growth markets, rich in natural resources. In December, fellow state-controlled power giant China Three Gorges Corp. won a 21% stake in EDP-Energias de Portugal SA— which has significant Brazil operations—with a €2.69 billion bid.