December 17, 2012 / 5:50 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-Vinci makes top bid for Portugal airport group-sources

* Vinci bid 3 bln eur for ANA -sources

* Fraport, Flughafen Zurich, Corporacion America also bid -sources

By Sophie Sassard

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Vinci has bid 3 billion euros ($3.95 billion) for control of Portuguese airport operator ANA, the highest offer among the four groups competing in the privatisation auction, sources familiar with the transaction said.

Portugal is expected to pick the new owner by the end of the year, with price the main criteria, the sources said on Monday.

The other final bidders were Germany’s Fraport, Swiss airport operator Flughafen Zurich and Argentina’s Corporacion America, the sources said.

A spokesman for French construction company Vinci confirmed it had bid for ANA but declined to comment on the price.

The Vinci bid was north of previously reported estimates, which had put its offer at an already substantial 2.6 billion euros.

At stake is control of a network of airports, including those serving the largest Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto, as well as the Algarve, Alentejo and the Azores archipelago.

Lisbon is betting on infrastructure sales to cut its debt 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.

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