December 5, 2014
French Government sells off 49.99% stake in Toulouse-Blagnac Airport
Back in July this year it was announced that the French government were selling off a minority 49.99% stake in Toulouse-Blagnac airport, located in the south west of France. At the time the government held a 60% stake in the airport, while the local Toulouse chamber of commerce held a 25% stake and a variety of local government offices held the remaining 15%. The right to dispose of a remaining 10.01% holding was not exercised. Last year the airport handled in excess of 7.5 million passengers, subsequently generating a revenue of EUR€117.4m, with a net profit of EUR€10.6m. The sale of the share in this airport will likely be followed by others. The sale of France’s regional airports has been on the cards for a while, with those in Lyon and the French Riviera city of Nice often mentioned as potential candidates. The French government’s reasoning behind the liquidation of certain assets is the intention to purchase a 20% stake, and become the majority shareholder, in the French company Alstom SA. The purchase of shares in the maker of power equipment and bullet trains is intended to be from Alstom’s core shareholder, Bouygues SA, at a maximum of €28 a share, though this has proved difficult as Bouyges want a significant premium on top of the then current share price in order to finance the restructuring of their telecoms unit. Part of the success of the deal depended on General Electric’s successful and outright acquisition of a major part of Alstom – the option agreed by the French government to buy shares would last for 20 months from the date of GE’s successful bid. As this has now gone ahead, the government has set itself a target of liquidating assets to the value of €10 billion over the next 18 months.
This week it has been announced that the 49.99% stake in Toulouse-Blagnac airport has been sold to a consortium made up of Chinese companies, Shandong Hi-Speed Group, and Friedmann Pacific Asset Management, for the sum of €308m. Other companies understood to have been interested in acquiring a share in the airport included Australia’s Macquarie, Spain’s Ferrovial, France’s Vinci, along with CDC Infrastructure and EDF Invest, as well as French airport operator ADP and the insurer Predica.