Malaysia Airports Said to Mull Raising Istanbul Airport Stake

Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd. (MAHB) may raise its stake in Istanbul’s second-largest airport, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The companies that operate Sabiha Gokcen International Airport are working with Rothschild to manage a potential sale, said the people, who declined to be identified as the deliberations are private. The process is at a preliminary stage and the other owners -- Malaysia Airports’ joint-venture partners GMR Infrastructure Ltd. (GMRI) and Limak Holding AS -- haven’t decided if they’ll sell their stakes, the people said.

India’s GMR and Limak, a Turkish group with interests in construction and energy, each hold 40 percent in the venture, also known as SGIA, while Malaysia Airports owns 20 percent, one of the people said. Limak and GMR may each sell a 15 percent interest in SGIA to Malaysia Airports, giving the Subang, Malaysia-based company control of 50 percent of the company, that person said.

Arun Bhagat, head of corporate communications at GMR Group, declined to comment on the sale other than to say no decision had been made. Limak Holding deputy chairman Ebru Ozdemir also declined to comment. Nik Anis Nik Zakaria, general manager of Malaysia Airports’ corporate communications, and a Rothschild spokesperson couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The joint venture placed a winning bid of 1.93 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in 2007 for a contract to operate SGIA for 20 years as of May 2008. The airport served 13.5 million passengers last year, a little more than half its maximum capacity of 25 million, according to the Turkish airport authority’s website.

Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd. (KNBZ), whose unit bought a controlling stake at Acibadem Saglik Hizmetleri & Ticaret AS (ACIBD), Turkey’s biggest hospital chain, in December, owns 54 percent of Malaysia Airports, according to Bloomberg data.

Istanbul Airports

Aeroports de Paris, the owner of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, confirmed last week that it was interested in TAV Havalimanlari Holding AS (TAVHL), Turkey’s biggest airport company, which operates Istanbul’s largest airport, Ataturk International, as well as 10 other airports in Turkey, Tunisia, Georgia and Macedonia.

Aeroports de Paris (ADP) is competing against French builder Vinci SA (DG) for a stake in TAV, according to two people with direct knowledge of the process. The company’s owners are seeking at least $2 billion for the company, compared to a market value of 3.1 billion liras ($1.8 billion) at its current share price.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at eersoy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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