Multiple bids lined up for Paris airport operator -sources

At least three consortiums have been formed to launch multibillion-euro bids for a stake in the operator of Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, among the first of France’s planned privatizations for 2019, three financial sources said.

The French state’s 50.6 percent stake in airports group Aeroports de Paris (ADP) is likely to go on the block next year in a deal that could be worth up to 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion), based on the current market capitalisation.

This privatization is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to help to finance a 10 billion euro government fund aimed at supporting innovation projects. For now ADP, energy group Engie and lottery monopoly FDJ are the main companies targeted.

Three consortiums have been forming, people close to the matter said, identifying the lead player in each as U.S.-based fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), French group Vinci and Australian fund IFM.

Milan-listed Atlantia has also been considering taking part in the ADP auction at the helm of a fourth consortium. However, such a plan could be thwarted by this week’s collapse of a motorway brigde in Genoa, which left 38 people dead, bankers and analysts said.

Atlantia may lack the funds if Italy imposes punitive measures against its Autostrade unit, operator of the collapsed bridge, and the group’s management could be too wrapped up in the Genoa aftermath to deal with new distractions.

Reuters reported in June that Vinci, which already holds an 8 percent stake and has made airport operation a core business, had approached pension funds to become partners, given the potential size of the asset.

It is unclear whether any fund has created a joint venture with Vinci.

The companies declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

INVESTOR RETURNS

One of the sources said that at least a dozen consortiums will participate in the first round of the auction, adding that each is expected to include one airport specialist or a that already has an airport portfolio.

Global infrastructure investors, Canadian and U.S. pension funds, large European insurers and Middle Eastern funds are also expected to bid, some as part of larger consortiums, the sources said.

European airports have achieved solid investor returns in recent years as they have benefited from increasing global travel and a rise in consumer spending at airport retail outlets, on-site hotels and car parking.

ADP owns its assets outright but the new law envisions the company being given a 70-year concession to operate them, with the state having the right to veto the sale of ADP assets, which are primarily real estate.

Source: New Stage

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