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Portugal auctions off airport company for $4B

People leave Lisbon's airport by a door decorated with the logo of airport management company ANA Thursday, Dec. 27 2012. Portugal's government is expected to announce Thursday the result of the privatization of ANA. The government decided to sell the company that runs eight airports in Portugal as part of the effort to deal with the country's financial crisis. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) -- French airport operator Vinci will pay €3.1 billion ($4.1 billion) to run 10 Portuguese airports for the next 50 years under Portugal's sell-off of state companies to reduce its public debt.

Vinci Concessions offered more than the minimum €2.5 billion officials wanted for national airport management company ANA, beating two other European suitors and one from Argentina.

Portugal's government approved Vinci's bid Thursday. It is selling state companies under conditions of a €78 billion international bailout package.

The revenue helps pay down the debt, forecast to reach almost 120 percent of gross domestic product this year.

Portugal already has sold state power and electrical grid companies to Chinese companies for €3.3 billion. Also facing sale are national mail company CTT, waste treatment company EGF and the national rail cargo operator.