China Everbright completes Tirana airport deal

The $100m acquisition is expected to be transferred to the to-be-launched overseas infrastructure fund which will focus on mature assets in Europe.

China Everbright, a Hong Kong-listed investment manager, has completed the acquisition of all shares in Albania’s Tirana Airport. 

The Chinese company signed the sale and purchase agreement with a consortium led by Germany’s AviAlliance in April, giving it the right to run the country’s major transport hub until 2027. 

Infrastructure Investor reported then that China Everbright had established a joint venture with Friedmann Pacific Asset Management, another Hong Kong-based asset manager, to acquire a majority stake in the asset in a deal valuing the airport at around $100 million. 

The acquisition was “the first move of China Everbright Overseas Infrastructure Fund which the firm is in the process of establishing”, its chief executive Chen Shuang said in a statement. The transaction was funded by the firm’s internal capital and the asset will then be transferred to the fund after its establishment, according to a source familiar with the matter. 

The Chinese firm is currently preparing the launch of the $1 billion overseas infrastructure fund and building a pipeline of potential acquisitions focused on operational assets in Europe. The vehicle will have a prime focus on airports, which China Everbright says could offer synergies with its aircraft leasing business. 

Tirana Airport saw its passenger traffic grow from 600,000 in 2005 to 2 million in 2015, according to the firm. The acquisition falls in line with China Everbright’s stated aim to turn some of the airports it runs into logistics hubs connecting China to Europe. 

China Everbright, controlled by state-owned China Everbright Group, managed HK$67.8 billion ($8.74 billion; €7.86 billion) via 33 funds as of 30 June. It also manages a 1.8 billion yuan ($268 million; €241 million) infrastructure fund in partnership with government-backed Shangdong High-Speed that focuses on “fast-growing eco-industries” in China such as renewables, waste treatment and clean technologies.