Bidders Emerge In Race For TAV Stake

February 3, 2012

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French construction group Vinci and a partnership between US private equity firm Carlyle Group and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) are the leading bidders in a race for a near 40 percent stake in Turkish airport operator TAV, three sources close to the deal told reporters on Friday.

TAV shareholders construction firm Tepe Insaat and Akfen Holding are selling 18 percent stakes each, sources said. Minority shareholders holding 3.52 percent of the shares will also sell their stakes in a deal which values the firm at around USD$2 billion, the sources said.

"We know that Vinci is leading because TAV shareholders prefer a strategic investor," said one source, while another said: "Vinci is leading, but they also talk to others. They also talk to Carlyle and (the) Qatari partnership and they are also very keen."

Tepe and Akfen said in September they would evaluate strategic options for their stakes in TAV.

Akfen has a 26.12 percent holding, according to its web site. Tepe Insaat has 26.06 percent.

TAV chief executive Sani Sener will keep his 4.03 percent stake -- held through his family construction business Sera Yapi -- in the possible deal and the remaining 40.28 percent is freely floating.

TAV is the leading airport operator in Turkey according to 2010 passenger statistics and the largest duty-free operator.

TAV generated EUR€753 million in consolidated revenue in 2010.

The company operates 10 airports, including Turkey's biggest airport Istanbul Ataturk. Its operations also include ground handling unit Havas, a duty free unit, and catering business BTA.

(Reuters)