BELGRADE, April 18 (Reuters) - Serbia has extended a deadline for bids for a 25-year concession to operate Belgrade's Nikola Tesla airport, the biggest in the western Balkan region, a government official said on Tuesday.
Belgrade is required to sell off state-owned companies as part of a three-year 1.2 billion euro loan deal with the International Monetary Fund. The government expects the airport deal to be worth around 400 million euros ($426.04 million).
The deadline was originally April 13 but now potential bidders will have until May 15 to submit their proposals for financing, development and managing of the airport, under the terms of the extended offer, published in the government's Official Gazette.
"The reason for the extension (of the deadline) is that we wanted to give interested companies more time to prepare their offers," the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. He did not elaborate.
Last month, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that 27 companies had expressed interest in bidding.
The Nikola Tesla airport, located 17 kilometres (10 miles) from Belgrade's city centre, serviced 4.92 million passengers in 2016, or 3 percent more than a year earlier. In the first nine months of 2016, it reported a net profit of 2.4 billion dinars, a 13 percent increase on the previous year.
Under terms of the offer, prospective bidders, companies or consortia, must not have more than a 20 percent stake in another airport within 450 kilometres of Nikola Tesla, with passenger numbers above 1 million in 2016. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Jane Merriman)