Hochtief airports sale may not take off this year

The German developer warned that market turbulence could delay the sale, which would lead the company to post a €100m net loss for 2011. Vinci and China's HNA Group are said to be the only two bidders for the airports unit.

German infrastructure group Hochtief warned today in its third-quarter results that market turbulence might derail the sale of its airports business, originally expected to close later this year.
 
“The macroeconomic situation has caused delays in the sale of the airport activities. Hochtief is still in close negotiations and is confident of being able to seal the transaction in the near future. It is nonetheless possible that this will no longer happen in 2011 as previously announced,” the firm said in a statement.
 
French infrastructure developer Vinci and China's HNA Group have both publicly confirmed their interest in Hochtief's airports unit – for which the German developer is said to be seeking up to €1.6 billion – and are thought to be the only bidders still negotiating with the company. A spokesman from Hochtief would not comment on this information.
 
If the sale of the airports unit ends up not taking place this year, then Hochtief expects to post a net loss of about €100 million for 2011. For the moment, though, Hochtief is in the black, with consolidated net profit of close to €99 million for the third quarter of the year.
 
In related news, Greek media were reporting last Friday that Hochtief had dropped out of negotiations to extend its concession of Athens Airport, for which the Greek government was expecting to net between €400 million and €500 million, including an upfront payment of €200 million. The Hochtief spokesman declined to comment on the negotiations.
 
Hochtief may soon find itself in other fraught Greek negotiations, though. In its third-quarter results, the company reported that “the economic crisis in Greece and persistence mass toll dodging led to major shortfalls in income development” for the two toll road projects it has in the country.
 
The Hochtief spokesman said the developer was “checking if we have to take provisions or not. If we take provisions it'll be for Q4,” he explained.