Concession offers for Sofia Airport opened

Five operators from UK, Germany, France and Denmark bid for the contract

Bulgarian authorities announced on Thursday that they had accepted the offers of all five international bidders for the concession of Sofia Airport. The procedure that will give the selected consortium a 35-year right to develop Bulgaria's largest airport would be completed by the beginning of June, Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov said.

“We will be looking very seriously at all the offers. We are happy with the interest shown,” he added after the binding offers were opened. “For the assessment we will continue to rely on our consultants, according to the contract concluded with the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,” Zhelyazkov confirmed.

Five airport operators and investors from Britain, Germany, France and Denmark bid in a tender for the concession, with a consortium led by France's Aeroports de Paris (ADP) offering to pay €32.8m per year or 42.8% of the annual revenue, whichever is higher. The total offer was well above the €550m, including fees of €7.7m a year, plus a €280m upfront payment, that Bulgaria had been looking to secure. It also asked for an investment of €600m to cover among other things the building of a third passenger terminal.

ADP, which has teamed up on the bid with Turkey's TAV Airports, has offered to invest €903m in the airport over the duration of the contract, in addition to its annual concession fee. ADP, a majority state-owned company, operates three airports in the French capital - Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget, as well as 23 others internationally.

Other bidders have committed to spend between €600m and €1bn to renovate the airport and expand its shopping and parking areas. Britain's largest airport operator, Manchester Airports Group, bidding in a tie-up with China's construction firm BCEG, offered an annual concession fee of €20m a year. The UK-based company operates also London Stansted and the East Midlands cargo airport.

Germany's Fraport, which operates Frankfurt airport, offered €21m. It already runs two airports in Bulgaria, in Varna and Burgas, alongside its Varna-based partner Chimimport.

A consortium comprising French asset manager Meridiam and the operator of Munich Airport offered €24.5m a year, and a tie-up between Copenhagen Airports and SSB Sauernwein & Schaefer made a bid of €26.5m.

Last week Sofia Airport issued its annual financial report, which showed an 11% increase in profits to €6.3bn in 2018. According to the data, the airport handled almost seven million passengers last year, 7.3% more than in 2017.

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