By Robert Hetz
MADRID, June 13 Spain will sell up to 49 percent
of heavily indebted AENA, the world's biggest airports operator
valued at around 16 billion euros ($22 billion), Public Works
Minister Ana Pastor said on Friday.
The government is expected to net only about 2.2 billion
euros from the sale, not enough to make a major dent in Spain's
public deficit. Pastor said the aim was to make management of
the company more efficient and attract more tourist flights.
After years of losses, AENA turned a profit for the first
time last year. The 2011 planned sale of AENA by the former
Socialist government failed to get off the ground as Spain's
deep economic and fiscal crisis made it difficult to get a good
The government will sell 28 percent of AENA in a public
offering on the Spanish stock exchange, Pastor said, and an
additional 21 percent will be auctioned to long-term investors.
She did not provide financial details.
AENA, which owns 46 airports at home and also has
international interests such as a stake in London's Luton
Airport, is worth up to 16 billion euros ($22 billion) based on
valuations of similar companies at 10 times core profit.
The government is expected to raise some 2.2 billion euros
with the sale of the non-controlling stake in AENA, given the
company's debt of some 11.5 billion euros, according to
calculations by sector experts.
Some government officials are opposed to the state losing
control of a strategic asset. Some of Spain's 17 autonomous
regions want to be involved in the management of their airports
to make sure fees do not rise and to avoid the closure of
Just 13 of the 46 Spanish airports were profitable in 2013,
including Madrid, Barcelona and tourist destinations such as
Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Tenerife.
AENA made a profit of 597 million euros in 2013, after huge
cost reductions including staff cuts and after benefiting from
airport tax hikes, up from a 215 million euro loss in 2011.
Spain is the world's third-biggest tourist destination
behind France and the United States. AENA is the biggest airport
operator in the world in terms of passengers, handling 187.4
million travellers last year.
France and Germany have both partially privatised their
($1 = 0.7345 Euros)
(Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by David Holmes and Elaine