August 12, 2015 / 2:00 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Spain's Sacyr speeds up Testa sale to Merlin

(Recasts with confirmation of stake sale, adds shares and price)

MADRID, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Spanish builder Sacyr accelerated its sale of property management company Testa on Wednesday, offloading a 26.9 percent stake in the firm to Merlin Properties about seven months ahead of schedule.

Merlin, a real estate vehicle which listed on the Spanish stock exchange last year, agreed in June to buy Testa in phases for 1.793 billion euros ($2 billion) as it expands its portfolio of office blocks, bank branches and hotels.

Merlin said the purchase of the 26.9 percent Testa stake took its total holding in the company to 77 percent. It paid 377 million euros for this chunk of shares, a source familiar with the deal said.

This stake sale had been expected to be finalised in March 2016. Sacyr said on Wednesday the remainder of its Testa stake, in which it had originally had a 99.2 percent holding, would be transferred to Merlin by the end of June 2016.

The Testa disposal is part of Sacyr's strategy to restructure and reduce debt after a real estate bubble burst in 2008, followed by a deep economic crisis.

Sacyr had been considering the sale of shares in Testa for more than a year in order to increase its free float of readily tradable shares and raise cash.

"This enables the company to start revamping the roll out of its core business in order to offset the lost cash flow generation from Testa earlier," investment bank BESI said of Sacyr in a note.

Sacyr shares fell 2.3 percent at 1355 GMT, along with the broader index of Spanish blue chip companies, while Merlin was down 0.9 percent. ($1 = 0.8985 euros) (Reporting by Carlos Ruano and Sarah White; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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