Vinci Targets Airports in Chile, Peru, Greece to Tap Traffic

Vinci SA, Europe’s biggest builder, is seeking airport concessions in countries from Chile to Peru to tap growing airline traffic as construction markets in France and central Europe struggle to expand.

“We want to develop Vinci Airports to capture the dynamism of the global airline traffic, which is growing faster that GDP everywhere in the world and should double by 2030,” Vinci Chief Executive Officer Xavier Huillard said at a press conference in Paris today. The company is also interested in construction markets in Africa. “We want to expand faster outside of Europe.”

The company is bidding to build and operate Cuzco’s new airport in Peru, and to manage the expansion of Santiago de Chile’s airport, the CEO said. It’s also interested in airports in Asia and regional platforms in countries such as Greece and Brazil, and in motorway concessions in Colombia, he said.

Three of the four largest airport acquisitions have happened in the past 14 months. Brazil’s Odebrecht SA and partner Changi Airport Group in November agreed to pay 19 billion reais ($8 billion) to run Galeao airport in Rio de Janeiro. That was the largest airport transaction since Grupo Ferrovial SA spent 10.1 billion pounds ($17 billion) for a 87.5 percent stake in the operator of London’s Heathrow airport in 2006.

Coming Deals?

Operating rights and stakes in airports in St. Petersburg and the Japanese cities of Fukuoka and Sendai may be offered for sale as owners seek funds for maintaining and expanding hubs while investors search assets promising long-term returns.

Passenger traffic at European airports grew 2.8 percent last year, Airports Council International said today, forecasting growth of 3.2 percent for this year.

To counter a slowdown in European construction, Vinci bought Portuguese airport operator ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal SA last year for about 3.1 billion euros and raised its stake in Aeroports de Paris to 8 percent. It also bought the stake in French toll road Cofiroute it didn’t already own.

Vinci shares rose as much as 6.6 percent in Paris today after the company reported 2013 net income that beat analysts estimates yesterday. The company predicted an improvement in its contracting margins as it slashed costs in Europe, and continued motorway and airport traffic growth in 2014.

Vinci shares were up 4.6 percent at 50.17 euros at 1:38 p.m. in Paris, giving the company a market value of 30.3 billion euros.