Year In Review

Europe • Year in Review • 2018

United Kingdom – Dec 27/18 – VINCI Makes Bold Move to Acquire Controlling Interest in Gatwick Airport

In a surprise move, VINCI Airports announced its planned acquisition of a controlling interest (50.01%) in Gatwick Airport. The USD3.7b purchase from Abu Dhabi and Australian sovereign wealth funds will be financed by GBP-denominated debt. Global Infrastructure Partners will retain the remaining minority stake. With a passenger throughput of over 45m/year, Gatwick will be the busiest airport in VINCI’s rapidly growing global airport portfolio.

Serbia – Dec 23/18 – VINCI Reaches Financial Close on Belgrade, Paving Way for Airport Improvements

On December 21, VINCI Airports paid a one-time EUR500m concession fee for Belgrade Airport paving the way for terminal and airfield improvements at the Serbian capital city airport. Capital works will include the construction of a temporary runway and taxiway for use while the existing runway is being rehabilitated, as well as upgrade/expansion of the existing terminals.

Croatia – Dec 20/18 – Zagreb Airport Looks to Refinance Project Under More Favourable Terms

MZLZ, the concession company operating and developing the Zagreb Int’l Airport, plans to refinance its existing loan “under more favourable conditions” subject to government approval. Under the terms of the concession, any renegotiation of financing arrangements requires grantor sign-off. The states will receive 33% of any benefit arising from the refinancing.

Slovenia – Nov 06/18 – Operator of Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport Ready to Pull the Pin

SHS Aviation, the operators of Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport is threatening to pull the pin on its 15 year concession, citing delays in adoption of zoning bylaws by the central government. The rezoning is needed to clear the way for the concessionaire’s EUR660m airport redevelopment plan. SHS pays a monthly fee of EUR100,000 for its concession rights.

Greece – Nov 03/18 – Next Batch of Greek Regional Up for Grabs, but a Much Tougher Sell This Time Around 

The Greek government is set to put another 23 small airports up of concession, on the heels of the successful transfer of 14 state-run airports to Fraport in 2017. The new batch are much smaller, the busiest handling less than 300,000 passengers per year, so it will be a much tougher sell. The Fraport concession is a 40-year deal, with EUR1.73b in capex and grantor fees.

Slovakia – Oct 26/18 – Bratislava Airport Eyed for Concession by Slovakian Government

The Slovakian Ministry of Transport is currently in the throes of finalizing its strategy for the concession of Bratislava Ivanka Airport. The strategy aims to facilitate growth of passenger traffic in tandem with an increase in airport capacity and service levels. Currently dominated by LCC service, the airport has enjoyed healthy double-digit passenger growth in recent years.

Bulgaria – Oct 24/18 – Plovdiv Concession Process Nixed in Wake of HNA Retreat

The Bulgarian Cabinet has terminated the tender process for concession of Plovdiv Airport, citing recent amendment of it’s enabling legislation to align with 2014 EU rules as the reason for the abrupt course reversal. The tender, originally launched in March 2016, was awarded to HNA Group however the Chinese conglomerate ended up walking away from the deal in step with its wholesale divestment of recently-acquired assets triggered by a staggering debt burden.

Croatia – Oct 05/18 – Zagreb Airport Set to Expand Capacity on Strength of Double-digit Traffic Growth

The private operator of Zagreb Airport, led by AdP, has launched its plan to further expand capacity. The new EUR300m terminal, opened in March 2017, has a design capacity of 5m passengers/year, however the facility’s special systems are only rated for 3.5m passengers/year.  Current year traffic is expected to grow by 10%, reaching 3.4m passengers.

Belgium – Sep 06/18 – Private and Public Sector Players Jockey for Stake in Brussel Airport Company

With word that the Macquarie Group minority shares in Brussels Airport will be soon be coming onto the market, key industry players have been jockeying to pursue the opportunity. In an unexpected twist, the Flanders Government Investment Company (FGIC) is also said to be considering acquisition of the Macquarie stake. The Belgian state already holds a 25% share.

France – Aug 31/18 – French Players Rally in Anticipation of Lille Airport Concession 

Eiffage, VINCI and other prominent French players are reported to be positioning to bid for the rights to operate the Lille airport, located in northern France. The privatization process is expected to kick off by the end of the year. Serving the Lille Capital-Métropole area and Nord-Pas de Calais region, the airport handled 1.9m passengers in 2017.

France – Aug 18/18 – Suitors Circling as French State Readies AdP for Market Sale

The highly-anticipated sale of 50.6% of the French state’s stake in AdP is on track for 2019, according to key sources. The deal is expected to fetch up to EUR10b , based on AdP’s current market valuation. The move is part and parcel of President Emmanuel Macron’s broader strategy to fund “new economy” innovation initiatives. Lead players expected showing initial interest include; Global Infrastructure Partners, VINCI and IFM.

Montenegro – Aug 08/18 – Government Considers Concession for Podgorica and Tivat Airports

The government of Montenegro has announced plans to concession Podgorica and Tivat international airports for a 25-30 year term. A request for expressions of interest is anticipated in the coming months. TAV Airports reportedly held talks with the government late last year to assess concession viability of the two airports.

Germany – Aug 06/18 – Fraport Exiting Hanover with Sale of Minority Stake to iCON

In a move that surprised many industry watchers, Fraport recently announced the signing of an agreement with iCON Flughafen for sale of its 30% share in Flughafen Hannover-Langenhagen for EUR109.2m. The remaining 70% stake is held equally by the City of Hanover and the Hannoversche Beteiligungsgesellschaft (wholly-owned by the State of Lower Saxon).

Greece – Jul 23/18 – Extension of Athens Airport Concession Working Against the Clock

Athens Int’l Airport (AIA) and state-run fund TAIPED are working against the clock to finalize the 20-year AIA concession extension, in preparation for a fresh round of negotiations this fall. The extension agreement must comply with European Commission competition rules and reviews, which have significantly delayed the process to date.

Greece – Jul 20/18 – Crete’s New Kasteli Greenfield Project One Step Closer to Reality 

The new greenfield airport at Kasteli, Crete is one step closer to reality, having cleared a critical EC review. The project will now be referred to the Court of Auditors and then the Greek Parliament for final ratification. Ariadne Airport Group, a consortium of GEK-TERNA and GMR Airports will hold a 54% stake, with the remaining 46% retained by the Greek State.

Belgium – Jul 17/18 – Brussels Airport Shareholders Settle Dispute, Clearing Way for Sale of Minority Stake

A pending dispute between fellow Brussels Airport investors Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and Macquarie has recently been settled clearing the way for sale of Macquarie’s 36% minority stake in the venture. OTPP has reportedly waived its pre-emption rights and agreed to contents of the info memo for circulation to potential buyers.

Ukraine – Jul 10/18 – Ukrainian Government Sets Sights on Boryspil. Other Ukrainian Airports for Privatization   

The Ukrainian gov’t is said to be considering privatization of some of the country’s airports, including its primary international gateway, Kiev Boryspil, according to the National Investment Council. With the shadow of the Russian invasion of Crimea still looming large, foreign investors remain skittish, however local investors in Kiev Zhuliany airport have proven that privatization of Ukrainian airports is not only possible, but profitable as well.

Romania – Jul 03/18 – Romanian Gov’t Launches Ambitious PPP Strategy Including New Airport Planned for Bucharest  

The Romanian government recently announced its plans to launch a total of 13 PPP projects, including development of a greenfield airport with a design capacity of 30 million passengers. The new airport, to be sited south of Bucharest, covering roughly 600ha, aims to capture transit traffic between Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

Bulgaria – Jun 29/18 – Sofia Airport Concession Process Rekindled by Bulgarian Parliament 

The on-again-off-again concession plans for Bulgaria’s Sofia Airport is back on, following on the government’s recent decision to re-launch a proposal call process. In 2016 an international tender was initiated – and later shelved – for a 35-year concession of the airport with an anticipated USD325m one-time upfront payment. The socialist opposition is rallying to scuttle the plan.

United Kingdom – Jun 27/18 – Heathrow’s Illusive Third Runway is One Step Closer to Reality

After decades of rancor and seemingly endless debate, UK’s parliament united – across the political spectrum – to support an Airports National Policy Statement clearing the way for Heathrow to advance its long-held plan for a third runway. The parliamentary approval paves the way for development consent which could see construction commencing by 2021.

Ukraine – Apr 29/18 – Kiev’s Boryspil Eyed for Privatization by Ukraine Amid Aftermath of Crimea Crisis

After years of talk and with the omnipresent threat of further Russian military action, word has it the Ukraine is pondering concession of one or more airports of its airports, including Kiev Boryspil. The National Investment Council Office contends that there is investor appetite for the opportunity, stating that a deal could be achievable within a two-year timeframe.

France – Apr 24/18 – VINCI Expands its Ever-growing Global Network with Acquisition of Airports Worldwide  

VINCI recently expanded its global network with acquisition of the Airports Worldwide portfolio, giving the French conglomerate a beachhead in United States and a stronger presence in South America and Europe. The deal includes acquisition of shares in a total of 12 airports within the United States, Costa Rica, Northern Ireland and Sweden bumping VINCI’s worldwide network of airports to 45 and increasing passenger throughput from 25.6m to over 182m per year.

Bulgaria – Mar 28/18 – China’s HNA Group Extending Reach into Europe with Plovdiv Airport Deal 

The Bulgarian transport ministry has signed a 35-year concession agreement with a private investor group led by China-based HNA. The deal, which should be sealed by mid-year, includes the commitment to at least USD$97.8m in capital investment.

United Kingdom – Mar 20/18 – Ardian Preparing to Sell its Minority Stake in London-Luton

French private equity firm Ardian has engaged Rothschild to assist in preparing its 49% stake in London-Luton Airport for sale at an expected value of at least USD$400m. Luton, the UK’s fifth busiest airport, is controlled by Spanish airport operator Aena which holds 51% of the operating company it purchased from Abertis for USD508m in 2013.

Bulgaria – Feb 15/18 – Bulgaria Reboots Concession Process for Sofia

Buoyed by Serbia’s award of a 25-year concession of Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport to VINCI early in the new year, Bulgaria has rebooted the process to attract private sector participation in the Sofia Airport. The original proposal call was terminated in mid-2017 following numerous deadline extensions. The renewed effort is expected to kick-off in Q1 of 2018.

Greece – Feb 08/18 – Extension of Athens Concession Waylaid in Brussels 

The 20-year extension of the Athens International Airport concession hit a stumbling block in Brussels, as the EU’s competition bureau has weighed in on the transaction. Initially set to be inked by the end of 2017, ratification of the deal will likely run into Q2-2018. So the Є251m payment to the state privatizations fund TAIPED and Є117m in VAT remains in limbo for the moment.

Serbia – Jan 13/18 – VINCI Clinches Bid for Nikola Tesla Airport

Following a series of fits and starts, Serbia has concluded the RFP process for the Nikola Tesla Int’l Airport (BEG) in Belgrade. VINCI, Europe’s largest construction and concessions company emerged victorious, offering Є501m in concession fees and Є732m of capital investment in exchange of the right to develop and operate the airport for the next 25 years.

Croatia – Jan 05/18 – Zagreb Airport Breaks the 3m Passenger Mark

Zagreb Airport (ZAG) broke the 3 million passenger milestone for the first time, continuing its trend of steady traffic growth. The new passenger terminal, opening late last year, has designed capacity of 5 million passengers/year. ZAG is operated under a 30-year concession with a private consortium including AdP, Bouygues, Fond Marguerite, IFC, TAV and Viadukt.

Germany – Jan 03/18 – Brandenburg Nearing End of Long, Painful Journey

The controversy-ridden Brandenburg-Berlin Airport (BER) is now set to open in the fall of 2020, a full nine years after its initially targeted completion date. Beset by a host of planning delays and technical problems since its conception over 25 years ago, BER has become a huge national embarrassment and a cautionary tale of failed project planning and execution.