Hochtief ‘very satisfied’ with ongoing airport sales

The German developer said the sale process for its airports division is in ‘full swing’ and confirmed reception of offers from interested bidders. A total of four consortia are thought to have submitted bids for the airports unit, with the sale expected to conclude later this year.

German infrastructure group Hochtief announced yesterday during its half yearly results presentation that it was “very satisfied” with the ongoing sales process for its airports unit.

“The twin-track [sale] process is in full swing and prospective buyers have placed their bids,” chief executive Frank Stieler said in a written speech. He did not mention how many bids Hochtief had received, promising more “detailed information as soon as we can” and expressing confidence in “successfully selling our airport business in 2011”.

Media reports are suggesting that a total of four consortia have placed bids for the airports unit. They are said to include a pairing of German airports operator Fraport and RREEF; French developer Vinci; a team of insurer Allianz Capital Partners and Global Infrastructure Partners; and the parent company of Chinese airline Hainan Airlines, which is said to have submitted one of the highest bids for Hochtief’s airports division at €1.3 billion.

Hochtief is conducting a dual-track sale process for Hochtief Airports, started earlier this year, which may see the division sold directly to investors or divested through an initial public offer later this year. Hochtief Airports holds stakes in six international airports, namely Sydney, Athens, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Tirana and Budapest.

In his speech, Stieler also stated that majority shareholder ACS is looking to raise its stake in the company above the 50.16 percent it currently owns. “ACS has announced that it will go on buying Hochtief shares in the months ahead to raise its shareholding – excluding Hochtief treasury stock – above 50 percent,” he commented.

The Spanish developer took control of Hochtief in late June, following a contentious takeover process for the German company that lasted the better part of a year. The takeover allows ACS to take advantage of Hochtief’s strong balance sheet and roster of contracts, easing pressure on a debt pile thought to be around €8 billion. Moreover, it diversifies ACS away from the struggling Spanish construction market and towards the growing German market.