Spain Halts Madrid, Barcelona Airports Sale

January 23, 2012

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Spain formally called a halt on Monday to the sale of the country's two biggest airports, from which the previous administration had hoped to raise at least EUR€5.3 billion (USD$6.85 billion) to help cut the country's debt.

Public Works Minister Ana Pastor, who had previously signalled the current economic climate was not conducive to selling airports authority AENA, said the transaction would be put on ice.

The centre-left government that lost November's parliamentary election announced a tender last year for 90 percent of a 20-year concession to run AENA's main assets, Madrid's Barajas and Barcelona's El Prat airports.

It set a floor price of EUR€3.7 billion for Madrid and EUR€1.6 billion for Barcelona.

Six groups expressed interest in bidding for Barajas and another six for El Prat, the Public Works Ministry said in September. Five groups including Spain's Ferrovial and Germany's Fraport were interested in both.

Proceeds of the privatisation had been intended to reduce Spain's sovereign borrowing requirements.

(Reuters)