Australian listed toll road company Atlas Arteria has confirmed making a bid for Chicago Skyway, a US highway company owned by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) and OMERS Infrastructure.

The Canadian owners called for bids for their combined 67% stake last week. Reports said that any transaction was expected to value the asset at more than US$4bn (€3.87bn), including debt.

Atlas Arteria, which owns toll roads in the US and Europe, said: “There is no certainty that a transaction will eventuate.”

Responding to the bid, IFM Investors, Atlas Arteria’s single-largest shareholder with a 19% stake, urged Atlas Arteria to drop its bid or face a legal challenge.

“We request that the company make an ASX announcement immediately that it has withdrawn from the Chicago Skyway sales process,” wrote Kyle Mangini, IFM Investors’ global head of infrastructure, in a letter to Atlas Arteria chair, Debbie Goodin.

“If the company continues with this course of action, IFM GIF (Global Infrastructure Fund) will consider all legal options available to it, including seeking an accelerated board transition by way of an EGM, to protect its interests as a shareholder of the company.”

Mangini said Atlas Arteria shareholders were expected to “strongly support” IFM GIF in pursuit of these options, particularly in the context of the company continuing to progress large equity-funded offshore acquisitions such as Chicago Skyway when it should be focused on funding and creating value from its existing asset portfolio.

Mangini said IFM had “strong reservations” in relation to any acquisition of Chicago Skyway for a number of reasons. Among these was concern that the acquisition could be “highly dilutive to distributions (potentially up to 20% dilutive).

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