UPDATE 1-France to reduce majority stake in Paris airport group

Thu May 30, 2013 6:12am EDT

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* Deal worth around 700 mln eur at current share price

* Stock trades 0.4 pct lower, up 18 pct this year (Adds valuation, background, share price, advisors)

PARIS May 30 (Reuters) - France plans to trim its majority stake in Paris airports operator ADP in a sale of almost 700 million euros ($908 million) worth of shares as it seeks to free up funds to invest elsewhere in an economy in recession.

The government will retain a majority stake, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in a statement on Thursday. It currently owns 54.5 percent of ADP, while state-sponsored FSI strategic investment fund FSI holds a further 5.6 percent.

Prime Minister Jean-Paul Ayrault said this month the state would reduce holdings in certain businesses to finance new investments, though Moscovici said then it was not embarking on a wave of privatisations but simply looking to re-balance its 63 billion euro portfolio to help spur growth and jobs.

The finance minister said on Thursday the government was preparing the sale of up to about 10 million shares in the operator of Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

The stock was trading 0.4 percent lower at 68.73 euros by 0905 GMT, having risen 18 percent since the start of the year on top of a 10 percent gain in 2012. Thomson Reuters data shows ADP has a total of just under 99 million shares outstanding.

A source close to the matter told Reuters the state wanted to complete the sale in the coming weeks and would favour offers from sovereign funds, pension funds and French institutional investors.

The decision follows the March sale of a 3.12 percent stake in aerospace group Safran to institutional investors, reaping nearly half a billion euros.

The French state's other holdings include 84 percent in utility EDF, 37 percent in GDF Suez and 27 percent in defence electronics group Thales.

The state is being advised by Credit Suisse, while Citi is advising the FSI fund. ($1 = 0.7712 euros) (Reporting by James Regan, Matthias Blamont and Vincent Flasseur; Editing by Mark John and Patrick Graham)

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