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Spain Approves Sale of Aena, Management Contracts for Airports

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July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Spain’s Cabinet approved the sale of a 49 percent stake in the state-owned airport operator Aena Aeropuertos and of management contracts for its two biggest airports in Madrid and Barcelona.

Two companies will be created and the firms that win the contracts to manage the airports will take a 90.05 percent stake in each, leaving the remaining 9.95 percent with Aena, Development Minister Jose Blanco said today in Madrid. The Cabinet also authorized the sale of as much as 49 percent of Aena Aeropuertos, which has already hired Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc to seek buyers.

Spain’s Socialist government is selling assets as it seeks to reduce the amount of debt it needs to issue to finance a budget deficit that was the third-largest in the euro region last year. It also plans an initial public offering of lottery operator Sociedad Estatal Loterias y Apuestas del Estado this year as it tries to win back investor confidence and stem contagion from the sovereign debt crisis.

The management contracts are for 20 years, extendable by another five, longer than the 15-year period the government proposed in a presentation in June. The Madrid tender will raise at least 3.7 billion euros ($5.2 billion) and the Barcelona sale 1.6 billion euros, the Development Ministry said in a statement.

The operators will also have to pay an annual fee equivalent to 20 percent of revenue. In 2012 that fee will be 150 million euros for Madrid and 80 million euros in Barcelona.

Aena handles 200 million passengers annually in 47 Spanish airports and the 28 it manages outside Spain. Madrid Barajas and Barcelona El Prat are Europe’s fourth- and ninth-busiest airports with 49.8 million and 29.2 million passengers a year respectively. In 2010, Barajas reported a net loss of 134.7 million euros and El Prat lost 73.9 million euros after tax.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angeline Benoit in Madrid at abenoit4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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