Dec. 28 - French group Vinci has won a privatisation tender for Portugal's airports operator ANA with a hefty bid of 3.08 billion euros, which helped debt-laden Lisbon to beat its EU/IMF asset sale goal. Joanna Partridge reports
Portugal's privatisations are taking off. The government's sold a 95% stake in its airports operator ANA to French group Vinci for just over 3 billion euros. Portugal agreed to sell off state-owned assets as part of its EU/IMF bailout agreement. The country's treasury secretary said it was a record airport privatisation. SOUNDBITE: Maria Albuquerque, Portugal's Treasury Secretary, saying (Portuguese): "This shows our capacity to attract stable foreign investment, the capacity of the government to fulfill tight calendars in demanding and complex processes, but also the capacity to raise significant sums above market expectations despite difficult circumstances." Portugal is still in a deep recession. But ANA has managed to churn profits out of its network of airports in Lisbon and across the country. Investors see potential growth in long-haul flights to South America and Africa. Lisbon has been betting on infrastructure deals to cut its debt. Despite the crisis in Europe, there is still strong demand for regulated assets. Portugal has already raised around 3.4 billion euros by selling major stakes in two power firms. Combined with the sale of ANA, it has beaten 5.5 billion euro target set by its international lenders by around 1 billion euros. Lisbon has been praised by Brussels for its economic progress, and it has been much more successful in privatising assets than other struggling euro zone members like Greece.