Vinci Still Keen On Hochtief's Airports Business

January 24, 2012

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Vinci, France's largest-listed construction and concessions company, is still interested in bidding for German construction firm Hochtief's airport business, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

"We are waiting for the auction to restart, but we don't think it will happen in the near future," Xavier Huillard said.

Hochtief has suspended the auction of its airports business - which includes Athens, Budapest, Tirana, Dusseldorf and Hamburg - blaming a difficult market environment, but said the sale remains "a strategic goal."

"The auction has been put on ice, mostly due to the assets in Greece and the uncertainty in the market," Huillard said. "Hochtief felt it could not obtain an optimal price for its assets."

Sources have said that HNA Group, the parent of China's Hainan Airlines and Vinci are contenders for the unit, both with offers of almost EUR€1.5 billion (USD$1.55 billion).

Huillard said that if other opportunities for acquisitions arose in the meantime, these could become a new priority for Vinci, which is keen on expanding its airport concessions business.

He also said Vinci's order book remains good, along with short-term visibility. He added that order trends in France may be less dynamic in the coming months due to the current financing difficulties local authorities are facing.

Vinci is due to report full-year results on February 7.

(Reuters)