ECONOMY

Hochtief said to revive airports sale with Deutsche help

Hochtief AG, Germany’s largest builder, is reviving the sale of its airport-operating business and has invited potential buyers to submit offers, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Hochtief, based in Essen, is working with Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) on the sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The invitation calls for indicative offers by the end of March, according to one of the people.

Last year, Hochtief shelved a sale of the airports unit for a second time after failing to get the price it wanted amid a struggling European economy. During that auction, bidders including Vinci SA, Europe’s biggest builder, and China’s HNA Group, offered more than 1 billion euros ($1.32 billion) for the unit, while Hochtief valued it at as much as 1.6 billion euros, people familiar with the process said at the time.

Hochtief spokesman Bernd Puetter says the company is aware of “speculation in the market” and cannot comment. Christian Streckert, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment. RREEF couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

A buyer would gain stakes at six airports serving cities including Hamburg, Sydney, Budapest and Athens. Fraport AG, the owner of the Frankfurt airport, also said in August 2011 that it and Deutsche Bank’s RREEF investment unit had submitted a bid for the non-German airport assets.

Hochtief is majority owned by Spanish builder Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA. [Bloomberg]