Spain seeks to privatise up to 60 pct of Aena - study

Reuters

MADRID, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Spain is seeking three to fivecore investors to buy 20 percent to 30 percent of debt-burdenedstate airport operator Aena and may then float further shares toleave as much as 60 percent of the company in private hands,according to an official report.

The Privatisation Consulting Council (CCP) study made publicon Monday was commissioned by Aena to assess the legal basis forthe government's privatisation plan. Details of the plan wereunknown until now.

Investment bank Lazard and Spain's N+1 brokerage have been hired to help line up investors for Aena. However, sources closeto the process said there was a slim chance of meeting thegovernment's goal of a deal early next year unless Madrid'sBarajas airport, which represents 20 percent of Aena's income,can turn around a decline in traffic.

Spain has struggled for years to privatise Aena, whichoperates 46 Spanish airports and London's Luton and has stakesin 14 Latin American airports. The last attempt was cancelled in2011 as Spain's deep economic and fiscal crisis made itdifficult to get a good price.

In the past the government had sought infrastructure firmsto take control of Aena. But sources have told Reuters that thistime the government has approached financial investors to takethe core stakes.

The CCP report said that Aena's plan was that none of themajor investors would take more than a 10 percent stake.

Aena has debts of 13 billion euros ($17.9 billion) from arapid expansion during the country's decade-long constructionbubble.

Investors are beginning to look at Spanish assets againafter signs the country's economy may be returning to growthafter two years of recession.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently bought a 6 percentstake in Spanish builder FCC, Colombian and U.S.investors bought new shares in Spanish lender Banco Sabadell and sources say a Canadian paper group is interestedin Spain's Indas.

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