Bouygues Eyes Croat Energy, Transport Plans, Paradis Says

French builder Bouygues SA, which will build a new terminal at the Zagreb International Airport, wants to compete for energy and transportation projects in Croatia as the nation joins the next European Union.

“In terms of infrastructure and energy projects in Croatia, we effectively are candidates to take advantage of EU funds,” said Charles Paradis, the chief operating officer of Bouygues Construction, in an interview yesterday in Zagreb. “If projects are coming through tenders, we will take part.”

Croatia, which is set become the 28th EU member in July, is struggling to emerge from its second recession in two years amid austerity measures and an investment drought sparked by Europe’s debt crisis. The Adriatic nation stands to receive about 10 billion euros ($13.3 billion) in EU grants through 2020 and plans to use the funds to boost public investment in infrastructure and energy.

Croatia a year ago accepted an offer from a French group led by Bouygues, that nation’s second-largest construction company, and Aeroports de Paris to build the Zagreb terminal.

The group, called Zagreb Airport International Co., will build Croatia’s main airport and pay 87 million euros ($118 million) in concession fees over 30 years. It will also have the right to operate the existing terminal until a new facility is operational in 2015.

The group will take over the existing terminal in April, while construction works on the new terminal will begin in September, Paradis said.

The new terminal is expected to boost tourism, which accounts for about 20 percent of gross domestic product in the former Yugoslav republic, and position Croatia to become a regional hub in the western Balkans.

The first phase, during which a new terminal and runways will be built, is estimated to cost 190 million euros. A further 29 million euros will be invested after passenger traffic through the airport exceeds 5 million travelers, compared with 2.1 million in 2010.