Shares in Spain's FCC soar after Bill Gates takes 6 pct stake


* Shares at 18-month high

* Gates becomes second shareholder after chairwoman

* Concerns over debt restructuring remain

By Sonya Dowsett

MADRID, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Shares in Spanish builder FCC surged 13 percent to an 18-month high on Tuesday afterthe company announced late on Monday that Bill Gates, co-founderof Microsoft, had become its second largestshareholder.

The debt-laden construction company said after market closeon Monday that Gates had bought 6 percent of the firm for 113.5million euros ($155 million) at Friday's closing price of 14.9euros per share.

The purchase is welcome news for the firm, which is fightingto overhaul its business and return to profit after aconstruction and property crash that slashed its share price byaround 80 percent.

Gates's FCC share purchase was splashed across the frontpages of national newspapers on Tuesday and was hailed by someas a resurgence of interest in Spain, which is expected toemerge from recession this quarter.

The purchase makes Gates the second biggest shareholderafter chairwoman Esther Koplowitz, one of Spain's wealthiestindividuals and a philanthropist, like Gates.

The shares had jumped 5 percent on Monday before theannouncement, which came after the market closed, and wereleading Spain's blue-chip index in morning trade, up 10 percentat 17.30 euros at 0950 GMT, off an earlier high at 17.75, whilethe IBEX 35 index was largely flat.

"A long-term investment by an investor of the calibre ofBill Gates is much more important than the short-term effect itmay have upon the shares," chief executive Juan Bejar said in aninterview with Cadena Ser radio.

Analysts cautioned that, although the purchase was positivefor FCC, itsmost pressing issue was negotiations with creditorbanks to refinance around 5 billion euros of debt that falls duethis year and next.

"We continue to be worried about the likely terms of therefinancing, not only the cost of debt but also for theguarantees, covenants and debt reduction calendar, as we fearthat banks will leave management little flexibility to createvalue for shareholders," said broker Espirito Santo in aresearch note.

FCC has cut staff, put assets on the block and made heavywritedowns on bad investments in renewable energy and Austria inan attempt to turn around its business.

Meanwhile, it has turned its focus onto big constructionconcessions, especially abroad, and won a multibillion eurocontract in July to build a metro in the Saudi Arabian capital,Riyadh.

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