* German, French, Swiss firms among bidders
* Colombian president backs his country's bidder
* Colombians also seek to buy TAP airline
(Adds Colombian president, Avianca interest to buy TAP)
LISBON, Nov 15 Portugal stepped closer to
selling airport operator ANA, picking five out of eight
preliminary bidders to make binding bids in a sale that could
reap over 2.5 billion euros ($3.20 billion) for the indebted
Lisbon is betting on infrastructure deals to cut its debt,
which it must do as a condition of its 78 billion euro
international bailout, as demand for regulated assets in Europe
remains strong despite the region's debt crisis.
It has so far sold stakes in power companies EDP
and REN, mainly to Chinese investors.
The government said on Thursday potential bidders for ANA
included German airport operator Fraport, French
construction firm Vinci and Zurich airport operator
The other two are the Blink consortium that includes
Portuguese builder Mota-Engil and Colombian
construction company Odinsa, and the Eama consortium grouping
Argentinian infrastructure group Corporacion America and
Portuguese group Sonae, among others.
Brazilian firms that sources said were among potential
bidders were apparently left out.
Treasury Secretary Maria Luis Albuquerque said some of the
offers were 12 to 13 times ANA's earnings before interest,
taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), which puts them
between 2.4 billion euros and 2.6 billion euros based on ANA's
2011 EBITDA of 200 million euros.
"The selected offers coincide with the best prices at this
nonbinding phase, but they also take into account the strategic
point of view," she said. "Binding offers have to be presented
Visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos spoke on
Thursday of a "clear potential to broaden ties between the two
countries" via the air travel sector.
"The synergy that it generates is evident and it would be a
very positive step as it has geographical logic," Santos told
Colombian-Brazilian tycoon German Efromovich, who controls
Colombia's Avianca airline, is also vying to buy Portugal's TAP
Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said he saw
"the Colombian interest with very good eyes."
Portugal's government hopes to use 1 billion euros of
proceeds from the airport concession sale to cut this year's
budget deficit and meet the 2012 target set by its lenders.
Europe's independent statistics agency Eurostat is still
analysing the issue. Privatisation revenues can be used for
government debt reduction, but not for deficit cuts. ANA is to
be sold off initially under concession terms, which the
government insists qualifies the money for use in deficit cuts.
($1 = 0.7817 euros)
(Reporting By Sergio Goncalves, Daniel Alvarenga; Writing by
Andrei Khalip; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)