LISBON Nov 23 (Reuters) - Germany's Fraport and its Australian partner are preparing an "attractive" binding bid for Portuguese airport operator ANA, an executive said, following reports that their preliminary offer fell short of the highest bid.
"We are very confident and have the financial means to bring an attractive offer to the table," a Fraport executive who did not want to be named said.
The Fraport executive declined to give any indications on the price or comment on Portuguese media reports that the consortium's initial offer was the lowest of five that qualified for the next stage of the process, lagging well behind a 2.6 billion euro ($3.4 billion) bid from France's Vinci.
Portugal's government hopes to sell ANA by the end of the year as it tries to fulfil the terms of a bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
It picked five out of eight preliminary bidders to make binding offers, among them the consortium grouping Fraport and Australia's Industry Funds Management.
The German company wants to slot ANA into a growing portfolio of foreign airports, which already contribute around 30 percent of its profits.
The other bidders are Zurich airport operator Flughafen Zurich ; the Blink consortium of Portuguese builder Mota-Engil and Colombian builder Odinsa; and the Eama consortium grouping Argentinian infrastructure group Corporacion America and Portugal's Sonae.
Business newspaper Diario Economico said on Thursday that two bidders left out of the next phase - Brazilian motorway operator CCR and fund Global Infrastructure Partners - had joined Flughafen Zurich to prepare a joint bid.
The deadline for binding bids is Dec. 14.
Asked whether Fraport was ready to consider more consortium partners, the executive said: "We are very confident about our consortium. We have a reliable and very aligned partnership, although we always are in touch with people." ($1 = 0.7761 euros) (Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and David Holmes)