At least six offers have been submitted for France’s 60 percent stake in Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport along with three bids for a similar stake in Nice Côte D’Azur Airport, sources close to the matter told Reuters.
France kicked off the privatization of both airports in March as part of plans to raise cash to help meet budget deficit targets. There will be a second round of bids ahead of a July 4 deadline to firm up the indicative offers selected.
Bidders are hoping to get a share of the growing returns from increased air traffic.
A consortium of French investment fund Meridiam and Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial bid for both airports, as did a group made up of French construction company Vinci, insurer Predica and state-owned Caisse des Dépôts, the sources said.
French buyout group Ardian also placed an offer for both airports. It may link up with investment fund Siparex and Caisses d’Epargne regionale for the Lyon airport.
Investment fund Cube Infrastructure together with Geneva Airport also made an offer for Lyon, the sources said.
Turkish firm Limak Yatirim as well as Australian group Macquarie also bid for Lyon, other sources told Reuters.
Macquarie however did not bid for Nice, one of the sources said.
The French economy ministry declined to comment on the bidders, who had until midday (1000 GMT) on Thursday to submit their offers.
Indicative offers were also expected from Changi Airports, which is the operator of Singapore Changi Airport, and from Canadian pension funds Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP).
According to the sources, German insurer Allianz together with Global Infrastructure Partners may have bid for the Nice airport stake, as could Italy’s Atlantia tying up with EDF Invest.
French airport operator Paris Aéroport has not bid for either airport, it has said.
Update: Reuters previously reported that France is expected to raise about 1.5 billion euros (US$1.7 billion) from the sale of 60 percent holdings in the two airports.
Earlier this year, Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo), Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and OTPP formed part of a consortium that agreed to acquire the operator of London City Airport.
(Reporting by Mattieu Protard and Julien Ponthus, Gilles Guilhaume, writing by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Michel Rose, David Clarke and Alexandra Hudson)
(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of PE Hub Canada)
Photo of Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport courtesy of The Buchan Group