VTB in negotiations to exit St Petersburg Airport

The Russian bank is looking to divest the remainder of its stake in Pulkovo after selling part of its initial holding to QIA and a Russian group.

VTB Capital is in talks to sell its remaining stake in St Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport two years after the hub completed a $1.2 billion revamp under a PPP scheme.

The Russian Bank currently owns 57.5 percent of Pulkovo, with German operator Fraport and Greek developer Copelouzos Group holding a 35.5 percent and 7 percent stake respectively.

VTB Capital's share in the asset will soon decrease, however, via a transaction that will see the three current shareholders sell down part of their interests in the airport. 

The deal, which received approval from the Russian government last Friday, will see the Qatar Investment Authority eventually buy up to 24.99 percent of the airport, reducing Fraport’s shareholding to 25 percent while Copelouzos is expected to exit entirely. Investment firm AEON will team up with VTB Capital to own 50.1 percent of Pulkovo.

The Russian bank is already working on divesting the remainder of its interest, though, with Oleg Pantrakov, head of infrastructure capital and project finance at VTB Capital, telling Infrastructure Investor that the firm is being approached by potential buyers. He confirmed that VTB Capital is in negotiations with one of the parties, adding that the bank is invested in the asset from its own balance sheet.

VTB Capital did not specify what the exact size of its interest in the airport will be after it joins forces with AEON.

Pulkovo is Russia’s third largest airports behind Moscow’s two major hubs, Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo, which respectively handled 31.6 million and 30.5 million passengers last year.

A consortium of VTB Capital, Fraport and Copelouzos won a PPP tender to boost the airport’s capacity to handle 22 million passengers a year in 2009. Pulkovo served 8.4 million passengers in 2010, when the consortium officially became the airport’s operator. The expansion was completed in 2014.