* Gavio rules out any deal with Salini
* Takeover bid impossible in current market conditions
* Planning buyback on up to 20 pct of Impregilo shares (Adds detail, comments)
MILAN, July 2 (Reuters) - Italian group Gavio, battling with Salini for control of Impregilo, said it would not launch a takeover bid for the country’s biggest builder and ruled out any sort of deal with its rival shareholder.
“In these market conditions, I do not feel like putting 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) on the table,” Beniamino Gavio, head of the eponymous group, told reporters on Monday.
The Gavio and Salini families, each with stakes of nearly 30 percent in Impregilo, face a showdown at a July 12 shareholder meeting when they will both try to gain control of the 1.4 billion euro ($1.8 billion) group by wooing fellow investors.
Activist fund Amber Capital, whose 5 percent stake makes it Impregilo’s third-biggest investor, will help tip the balance in a battle where every vote counts.
“If I fail to win a majority at the shareholder meeting, I will sit and wait,” Beniamino Gavio said. Rejecting talk of a deal with Salini, he said: “Our lifestyle, mentality, business model are completely different”.
Impregilo has received a binding offer from Almeida, Ecorodovias’s controlling shareholder, to buy 19 percent of its overall 29.2 percent stake, a sale that could generate a capital gain of 530 million euros for the company and its shareholders.
The Gavio family, which controls the stake in Impregilo through listed motorway group Autostrade Torino-Milano , first invested in Impregilo in 2005 and stuck by it throughout a difficult restructuring.
While the Gavios plan to keep Impregilo’s construction and concession businesses, Salini has said it wanted to separate them to remove a “conglomerate” discount capping Impregilo’s shares.
Impregilo, whose board is backed by Gavio, is planning a buyback of up to 20 percent of its shares, a move that could provide an exit for investors unhappy with its strategy.
Salini on the other hand wants to kick out Impregilo’s board because of its dividend policy. It also contests the company’s flagging profitability and loss of competitiveness on the construction market.
It aims to merge with Impregilo to generate synergies worth around 100 million euros, even though Gavio’s large stake would represent a thorn in the side for any future strategy.
Impregilo shares were down 0.9 percent at 3.34 euros at 1445 GMT. ($1 = 0.7880 euro) (Reporting by Lisa Jucca and Elisa Anzolin; Editing by Dan Lalor)