France to Pare Holding in Paris Airport Operator ADP

The French government plans to reduce its holding in Aeroports de Paris, the operator of the airport in the French capital, as it refocuses its investments.

Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has asked the government organization managing state holdings to prepare the disposal of 10 million share, according to a statement today. The French state owns 54.5 percent of the capital, while the state’s strategic investment fund owns another 5.6 percent. The government said it will retain a majority in the company.

“This operation is part of the government’s policy of actively managing its shareholding, allowing it to preserve the state’s patrimonial and strategic interests while at the same time freeing up resources for new promising sectors of the economy,” Moscovici said in the statement.

Aeroports de Paris has 99 million shares outstanding, of which less than a third is freely traded. The stock has gained 18 percent so far this year, valuing the entire company at about 6.83 billion euros ($8.86 billion). ADP first sold shares to the public in June 2006 at 44 euros each. Its shares rose 0.25 percent to 69.18 euros at the close in Paris.

The government last month disposed of a 707 million-euro stake in European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., the parent of Airbus SAS, as President Francois Hollande’s government embarks on a policy of selective asset sales.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a television interview May 5 that the government had “no taboo” about selectively reducing stakes in state-controlled companies, while saying it would keep control of companies it considered strategic.

ADP manages the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Europe’s second-largest behind Heathrow. The airport attracted 61.6 million passengers last year. The Finance Ministry didn’t immediately respond to e-mails asking which banks would handle the ADP sale.

Citigroup Inc. is advising France’s strategic investment fund, the Fonds Strategique d’Investissement, while Credit Suisse Group AG is advising the French state on the sale.

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