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Argentine Eurnekian targets Greek airports following crisis

Argentine billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian’s Corp. America holding company is bidding for all of Greece’s airports as the group looks to expand in Southern Europe and take advantage of discount prices after the crisis.

Corp. America’s airport operating unit is bidding for 21 Greek airports, Martin Eurnekian, head of the division and a nephew of Eduardo, said in an interview in Davos on Jan. 22. The group, which is acquiring a 23 percent stake in Pisa, Italy’s airport this week, is also trying to complete a plan to integrate Tuscany’s airports by adding Florence, he said.

“We’re going to be very aggressive on all fronts,” said Eurnekian, 35. “A lot of opportunities have opened up after the crisis.”

Greece, which sparked Europe’s sovereign woes in 2009 and required two bailouts, has seen its economy contract for 21 consecutive quarters. While Greece originally agreed to a goal of raising 50 billion euros ($68 billion) by 2015 through asset sales as part of austerity measures required by the EU and the International Monetary Fund, officials had to scale back their plans as transactions were delayed.

The country plans to sell stakes in two ports in February.

Corp. America, which operates 51 airports worldwide, with the majority in Argentina, is also preparing to bid for concessions in Cuzco, Peru, Barranquilla, Colombia, and the main international airport of Santiago later this year, Eurnekian said. The company, based in Buenos Aires, is renovating the Brasilia airport before the World Cup in June with plans to triple sales through retail by 2015 and make it the main domestic hub of Latin America’s largest economy.

Financing Sources

The Corp. America airport operator unit, which generates as much as $1.2 billion of revenue a year, doesn’t have any financing needs in the bond market for now, Eurnekian said. The company used proceeds from its $300 million bond sale in 2010 to renovate the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires and is receiving financing at low costs from Brazilian development bank BNDES, he said.

While the bid round for the Santiago airport would imply higher capital costs than more undeveloped markets, the company is working with a financial institution to look for a local partner and make a competitive bid, Eurnekian said. Chile will require as much as $800 million investment, he said.

A press official at the Chilean Public Works Ministry said no one was immediately available to comment on the bid round.

“Our mandate is to grow in the Americas and Europe with a focus on the Mediterranean,” he said. “We always invest in projects with the goal of maintaining managerial control.”

[Bloomberg]

ekathimerini.com , Friday Jan 24, 2014 (10:18)  
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