Spain's Ferrovial buys stake in Aussie detention centre operator

Madrid (AFP) –


Spanish construction giant Ferrovial said Wednesday it completed a buyout of 75 percent of Australian defence and service provider Broadspectrum, which runs controversial offshore detention centres for asylum seekers.

Ferrovial said it had boosted its bid price by 11 percent to 1.50 Australian dollars per share, valuing Broadspectrum at 769 million Australian dollars ($580 million/729 million euros).

Australia's holding of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres run by Sydney-based Broadspectrum in Papua New Guinea and Nauru has previously drawn criticism from the United Nations and rights groups.

Ferrovial, which owns London's Heathrow airport, has said it will not offer to run the detention centres.

"These services were not a core part of the valuation and the acquisition rationale of the offer, and it is not a strategic activity in Ferrovial's portfolio," it said in a statement last week.

Campaign group No Business in Abuse warned that the new owner of Broadspectrum could face legal action for the human rights abuses it claims have occurred at the centres under Broadspectrum's watch, including alleged rape and violent attacks.

"They are being sued in Papua New Guinea and Australian courts by detainees who have found an Australian lawyer to take their case," said the group's lawyer Shen Narayanasamy.

"They are suing them for the amount of injury suffered after three years of unlawful detention," he added.

Broadspectrum, formerly known as Transfield Services, provides services across industries such as infrastructure and energy.

Ferrovial said Wednesday it had so far received acceptances on its offer for 75 percent of Broadspectrum shares. The offer period runs until May 13.