Vinci Said to Offer Highest Price for Portugal’s Airports

Vinci SA, Europe’s No. 1 construction company, made the highest offer for Portugal’s airport operator last month while Colombian builder Grupo Odinsa SA has dropped out of the auction, two people familiar with the situation said.

Vinci made a non-binding bid of 2.5 billion euros ($3.2 billion) for ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal SA, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the process is confidential. Odinsa has told the Portuguese government it no longer plans to make an offer, both people said.

Portugal is trying to sell ANA and state airline TAP SA to raise money after seeking a bailout last year from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. A Vinci official confirmed that the French company is interested in ANA as it seeks to expand the airport business. The government deadline for final bids is Dec. 14, the two people said.

“This acquisition makes total sense for Vinci as it tries to diversify its portfolio and expand into the airport management business,” said Filipe Martins Leite, an analyst at Banco BPI in Oporto, Portugal.

Vinci rose as much as 1.2 percent in Paris before closing 0.2 percent higher at 34.51 euros. The stock has gained 2.2 percent this year, valuing the company at 19.9 billion euros.

Auction Rivals

The other three bidders shortlisted on Nov. 15 were Fraport AG, owner of Germany’s Frankfurt hub, Argentina’s Corporacion America and Flughafen Zuerich AG of Switzerland. The Zurich airport operator has since linked with Brazilian highway company CCR SA and Global Infrastructure Partners to pursue the deal.

Only Synergy Group of Brazil, which controls Latin America’s Avianca airline brands, came forward with a non-binding offer for TAP, the government said Oct. 18.

Final bids are due tomorrow for the carrier, which is worth no more than 500 million euros, according to estimates from analyst Donal O’Neill at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin.

The winning bidders for ANA and TAP won’t be able to sell their stock for five years and 10 respectively, the government said today following a weekly cabinet meeting.

While initial bids for the companies were non-binding, the Portuguese government expects final offers to be similar to or higher, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

Portugal has hired Barclays Plc, Banco Espirito Santo SA, Citigroup Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG as advisers on the disposals of TAP and ANA. It expects to find buyers for both by the year’s end and conclude deals early in 2013, Maria Luis Albuquerque, secretary of state for treasury, said last month.

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