Meridiam, VTB, Vinci reach final stage for Belgrade airport

The European investors join Indian and Chinese counterparts in making the shortlist for the Serbian hub, whittled down from 27 interested parties.

The Serbian government has shortlisted five bids to operate Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport after the initial process sparked 27 offers for the €500 million site.

Meridiam has joined up with Zurich Airport and compatriot Eiffage in a bid which if successful, would become the French fund manager’s first airport investment in Europe after it was pipped last year to the Lyon and Nice airport concessions. The firm was awarded two Madagascan airport deals in January, while it is also part of a consortium redeveloping LaGuardia Airport in New York.

The western European consortium will compete against a solo bid from Vinci Airports for the Serbian site as well as an Indian-Greek offer from GMR Infrastructure and Terna. Meanwhile, a bid from South Korea’s Incheon International Airport and Turkish firm Ictas Altypi is being supported by Russia’s VTB Capital, with an all-Chinese consortium comprising Hainan Air Travel Service, HNA and China National Aero Technology rounding up the shortlist.

The bidders emerged following a tender period in which the deadline was extended three times after a wealth of interest was generated, resulting in 27 offers. The winner of the 25-year concession will be responsible for the financing, maintenance and reconstruction of the airport.

The site grew to prominence in 2014 when it recorded a 31 percent passenger increase to 4.6 million, becoming one of Europe’s fastest-growing airports. This figure rose to 4.9 million at the end of 2016.