Mexico eyes foreign builder, local partners for $9 bln airport

MEXICO CITY, Sept 4 Thu Sep 4, 2014 12:38pm EDT

MEXICO CITY, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Mexico is likely to pick an experienced, foreign construction company, working in partnership with local firms, to build a $9 billion Mexico City airport, Telecoms and Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said on Thursday.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto made the official announcement of the long-mooted airport this week, awarding the design of the project to British architect Norman Foster and Fernando Romero, a son-in-law of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.

The six-runway, 120 billion peso project will be built adjacent to the Benito Juarez International Airport on the eastern flank of Mexico City, where the government already owns land, and is expected to handle up to 120 million passengers a year.

Speaking on local television, Ruiz Esparza said no company had yet been chosen.

"We need to pick an experienced (company), one that has already built this type of airport," he said. "The most likely scenario is that it is an international company, allied with Mexican companies."

Ruiz Esparza also said that Foster and Romero would earn about 1.8 billion pesos ($137.7 million) for their architectural design, and that the new airport would retain the name of the current hub.

Foster is one of the world's most famous architects, and his practice, Foster + Partners, has designed dozens of high-profile projects around the world, including Beijing Airport and London's Wembley Stadium.

Romero is married to Soumaya Slim, a daughter of one of the world's richest men, and is the head of FR-EE Fernando Romero Enterprise.

The firm designed Mexico City's distinctive Museo Soumaya, which houses much of Slim's personal art collection behind its sloping, silvery walls.

Slim, who controls Mexican telecoms giant America Movil , is behind a diversified empire that spans mining, banking and retail. Analysts say Slim's Grupo Carso and builder ICA are likely to bid for construction contracts.

($1 = 13.07 pesos) (Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner and Gunna Dickson)

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