Singapore Changi, Odebrecht to Acquire Rio Airport

A unit of Singapore’s Changi Airport Group and Odebrecht SA will acquire Galeao airport in Rio de Janeiro for almost four times the minimum bid to run Brazil’s second-busiest air hub for 25 years.

Changi Airports International and the Brazilian construction and engineering company offered to pay 19 billion reais ($8.3 billion) for Galeao, which will host visitors for the soccer World Cup next year and the 2016 Olympic Games. This compares with the minimum required bid of 4.83 billion reais. The contract is expected to be signed in March, Changi said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The airport auction was part of President Dilma Rousseff’s 212 billion-reais plan to modernize infrastructure and shore up investor confidence as growth in Latin America’s largest economy slows. The government is under pressure to complete the projects as the country prepares to welcome a projected 600,000 international visitors for the World Cup in June.

“It’s going to be an incremental process, but this is going in the right direction for Brazil,” said Jefferson Finch, an analyst from political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. “If they can follow this up with three successful highway auctions, it could really be very helpful in turning the boat of sentiment away from negative to more positive.”

The real rose as the premium on Galeao airport boosted speculation more dollars will flow into Brazil, according to Pablo Spyer, a director at Mirae Asset Management in Sao Paulo. The currency advanced 1.1 percent to 2.2794 against the dollar on Nov. 22.

Galeao Expansion

“Those pessimistic about Brazil will have a bitter day today,” Rousseff said Nov. 22 in a speech in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. The airport auction “didn’t go wrong.”

The first phase of the airfield’s expansion will include building an additional 26 airbridges and parking lots by April 2016, according to Changi’s statement. The airport will be able to handle more than 60 million passengers annually by the end of the concession period, it said.

“The Latin American aviation market presents many growth opportunities,” Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive officer of Singapore’s Changi Airport Group, said in the statement. “We must focus immediately on the expansion of the Galeao airport.”

Three Airports

Singapore’s air transport system is ranked first for quality in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report, based on a survey of more than 13,000 business leaders. Brazil’s system, by contrast, ranks 123rd on the list of 148 countries.

Last year, Brazil sold licenses for three airports, including Brasilia and Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos, for a total of 24.5 billion reais. Afterward, the government was criticized for setting terms that failed to draw the world’s biggest airport operators, so the terms were redrawn for the auction.

“I don’t think Odebrecht tore up money with their bid, that’s not for us to say, considering what we bid on Guarulhos last year,” said Antonio Carlos Mata Pires, vice president of OAS Investimentos SA, in an interview at the auction. OAS is an investor in Invepar, which led the group that won Guarulhos last year with a 16.2 billion-real bid, almost five times the minimum.

Confins Airport

The Aerobrasil group led by CCR SA, including the operators of Munich’s and Zurich’s airports, also won the right to operate the Confins airport in Belo Horizonte for 30 years at the Nov. 22 auction. The group offered 1.82 billion reais versus a minimum bid of 1.1 billion reais. CCR shares closed 1.3 percent higher on Nov. 22.

Brazil’s state-run management company Infraero will retain a 49 percent stake in the airports, and the winning bidders will contribute 5 percent of annual revenue to support the country’s other airports.

Five groups submitted bidding documents on Nov. 18. Brazil required bidders for Galeao to have experience managing airports that handle 22 million passengers a year, and for Confins 12 million passengers.

Galeao handled more than 17 million passengers in 2012, according to the civil aviation agency, known as Anac. Confins is the fifth-busiest Brazilian airport, handling more than 10 million last year.

Three Highways

The government will auction three highways before year-end, Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters Nov. 22 in Brasilia.

Earlier this year, the government had to boost the rate of return for road projects after an initial offer didn’t generate interest. Still, one of two roads auctioned in September drew no bids.

Rousseff’s infrastructure drive has suffered a series of delays and revisions. The government has not yet auctioned any railway or port concessions, which it originally pledged to do this year.

Brazil’s economy grew 2.7 percent in 2011 and 0.9 percent in 2012. Analysts surveyed by the central bank forecast 2.5 percent expansion this year and 2.1 percent next year.

The real climbed 1.5 percent in the five days through Nov. 22, its first weekly rally since the period to Oct. 18 and more than all major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. That follows a 10 percent weakening this year amid speculation the country may be downgraded by Standard & Poor’s, which in June placed Brazil’s rating on negative outlook, citing weak growth.

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