VINCI to invest €1.2bn after landing Belgrade Airport deal

The French group fought off competition from compatriot Meridiam in a tender which initially attracted 27 bidders.

France’s VINCI Airports has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the Nikola Tesla Airport tender in Serbia and will invest about €1.2 billion through the deal.

The group will pay €501 million for the concession and invest a further €732 million over the course of the 25-year agreement, according to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The deal covers the financing, operation, maintenance, expansion and renovation of the existing airport terminal and runway system.

The selection of VINCI brings an end to a tender process lasting almost a year. Deadlines were repeatedly extended to allow investors more time after an initial shortlist revealed 27 bidders from across the world, before being whittled down to five in June.

VINCI’s solo bid competed against joint offers from Meridiam, Zurich Airport and Eiffage, GMR Infrastructure and Terna, Incheon International Airport, Ictas Altypi and VTB Capital and an all-Chinese consortium comprising Hainan Air Travel Service, HNA and China National Aero Technology.

“This success marks a new stage in the development of VINCI Airports abroad,” said Nicolas Notebaert, president of the group. “The Belgrade airport will become the company’s hub in South-East Europe, an area in which it was not established until now.”

VINCI operates 35 airports in seven countries including France, Portugal, Japan, Chile, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Cambodia.

Nikola Tesla became one of the fastest growing airports in Europe in 2014 when it recorded a 31 percent increase in passenger numbers to 4.6 million. This has since grown to 5.3 million in 2017, according to records released last week. Profits at the site have also recorded significant uplift since the €130,000 made in 2012, according to Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic. Figures for 2017 are set to be between €28 million and €29 million, she said following the award to VINCI.