ROME (Reuters) - Italy's Atlantia and builder ACS reached an agreement over taking joint control of Abertis, sources said on Tuesday, putting an end to a long bidding war for the Spanish toll road operator.
Atlantia and ACS have been locked in battle for months, with the Spanish government concerned that an Italian victory could leave some of the country's most important transport arteries under foreign control.
The deal between the suitors comes a day after a bid by ACS's German arm Hochtief -- valuing Abertis at 18.2 billion euros (£16.2 billion) including the group's treasury shares -- received clearance from Spain's market regulator.
The rival offer by Atlantia, which aimed to become the world's biggest transport and infrastructure operator, was for 17 billion euros.
The three sources with knowledge of the matter did not explain how the companies would carry out the agreement.
Reuters reported earlier on Tuesday that the deal would allow ACS to buy Abertis through Hochtief in a cash-and-shares offer, with Atlantia withdrawing its competing bid.
Abertis would then be delisted and ACS, led by Real Madrid soccer club Chairman Florentino Perez, would transfer the ownership to a new company jointly owned with Atlantia.
Atlantia would consolidate the acquired Abertis business, one of the sources said, implying that the Italian company would have effective control.
The source added that Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, would also name the chief executive of the new company.
(Reporting by Stefano Bernabei; Writing by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Crispian Balmer and David Goodman)