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Business

Bill Gates acquires stake in Spain's FCC building group

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has secured a stake in Spanish construction and services group FCC. The company said it was restructuring its business to diversify away from its crisis-hit home market.

Spanish construction company FCC announced on Tuesday that US billionaire Bill Gates had snapped up a 113.5-million-euro ($155-million) stake in the company which had been suffering from the country's protracted debt crisis in the wake of national real estate collapse back in 2008.

In a first reaction to Gates' purchase of his six-percent stake in the firm, FCC shares quickly surged by well over 10 percent in early trading in Madrid after losing about 80 percent of their value since the property bubble burst.

The Microsoft founder became the second-largest FCC shareholder after the group's president and philanthropist Esther Koplowitz, who ranks among the nation's most affluent business women.

Digesting Alpine repercussions

In July of this year, the Spanish building company landed a six-billion-euro project to build three underground rail lines in Riyadh. It's also rebuilding the historic 1960s Gerald Desmond bridge in Los Angeles and a subway system in Panama, the first in Central America.

FCC has generally sought to focus more on international projects, with the home market mired in a double-dip recession.

In the first half of this year, the group reported a loss of 607.6 million euros, down from a 53.4-million-euro net profit a year earlier. The poor results in 2013 came in the wake of the collapse of its fully-owned Austrian subsidiary, Alpine Bau, marking the biggest corporate demise in Austria's post-war history.

hg/pfd (Reuters, AFP)