February 13, 2017 / 9:34 AM / a year ago

Serbia invites bidders for 25-year Belgrade airport concession

BELGRADE, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Serbia has invited bids for a 25-year concession to operate Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport , the biggest in the Western Balkan region.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in December his cabinet expects 400 million euros ($426.00 million) from the sale of the airport, one of the most profitable state-run firms in the Balkan country.

Belgrade is required to sell off state-owned companies, including the airport, as part of a 1.2 billion-euro loan deal agreed with the International Monetary Fund in 2015.

Airports in Europe are often seen as attractive infrastructure investments due to expected passenger growth in the region and several other privatisations are underway, including airport in Sofia.

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.

Under the terms of the offer, published in the government’s Official Gazette on Feb 10, bidders will have 60 days to submit non-binding bids for financing, development, maintenance and managing of the airport.

On Monday, shares in Aerodrom Nikola Tesla rose to 1,150 dinars ($9.90) or up 1.8 percent compared to Friday.

In the first nine months of 2016, Nikola Tesla airport reported a net profit of 2.4 billion dinars, a 13 percent increase compared with the previous year.

Under terms of the offer, prospective bidders, companies or consortia, must not have more than a 20 percent stake in an airport within the range of 450 kilometres, which serviced more than 1 million passengers in 2016.

The prospective bidders are also required to have accumulated capital worth more than 500 million euros or available financial resources of more than 500 million euros, the offer said.

($1 = 0.9390 euros)

$1 = 116.1700 Serbian dinars Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Jane Merriman

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