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Spain's Ferrovial drops on Nasdaq debut

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Adds more comments from Ferrovial CEO

MADRID, May 9 (Reuters) -Ferrovial FER.O shares dropped on their Nasdaq debut on Thursday after a listing that drove the infrastructure group to move its headquarters from Spain to the Netherlands to ease access to the U.S. stock market.

Ferrovial, with a market value of 25.4 billion euros ($27.3 billion), is the first company on Spain's blue-chip index to also list its ordinary shares on the Nasdaq, as it looks to boost its profile in its most important market.

The move sparked some criticism in Spain, whose stock market operator had not previously handled a dual listing with the United States, leading Ferrovial to move its headquarters to the Netherlands, which has more experience of the process.

The shares opened at $47.22, above their theoretical Wednesday closing price of $40.74, and then dropped 17% to $39.20 in the first hour of trading.

"It's going to take time for the American investor to get to know Ferrovial ... they don't have any other infrastructure company trading in the market with ordinary shares," CEO Ignacio Madridejos told Reuters.

"It's both an advantage and an inconvenience," he said, adding that getting into Nasdaq blue-chip indexes "is not going to be in the short term".

With the listing, the Spanish construction giant, which is also listed in Amsterdam FERF.AS and Madrid FER.MC, hopes to increase liquidity and visibility in the U.S., where it made 71% of its investments in 2023, a proportion it wants to raise to 80% by 2027.

Ferrovial operates in 15 countries, employing 20,000 people.

The company sees opportunities for managed highway lanes and airports around cities in the southeast U.S. and also around New York, areas where Madridejos believes infrastructure lags behind population growth, which outpaces that in Europe.

After 20 years operating in states such as Texas and North Carolina, Ferrovial is also eyeing cities such as Nashville in Tennessee and the Washington D.C. area.

The company is already building a new terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, due to be completed by 2027, and has this year vied for an express highway lane in Atlanta.

Asked whether former President Donald Trump's possible return to power in November's election could alter its plans, Madridejos said Ferrovial was as confident in the U.S. market as in Europe in the long run.

"You have to be available to any kind of government ... In any case, our type of projects, such as managed lanes or airports, are more of a state than a federal" issue, he added.

Businesses have voiced concerns about the future of President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act providing subsidies in a push for a greener economy.

Regarding the planned sale of its 25% stake in Heathrow airport, Britain's busiest, Madridejos expected to complete it by the end of 2024, subject to regulatory conditions, and would not comment on any other potential divestments.

($1 = 0.9297 euros)

Reporting by Corina Pons; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Potter


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