On March 10, 2016, the French government launched the
privatization process of the airports of Nice Côte d'Azur
(2014 turnover: €231.6 million) and Lyon Saint-Exupéry
(2014 turnover: €158.4 million). The French State is entitled
to sell the 60 percent share that it owns in those airport
companies by virtue of article 191 of Law #2015-990, dated August
6, 2015. The other shareholders are the local Chamber of Commerce
and Industry (25 percent) and local authorities (15 percent).
The bidders must come forward before March 24, 2016, and the
selected candidates must present their first indicative offers
before April 28, 2016 (Nice) or May 12, 2016 (Lyon). The government
will consult the local authorities (regions), and the selected
candidates must submit their best and final offers before June 20,
2016 (Nice) or July 7, 2016 (Lyon).
The tender specifications are available (in French) on the French
State Investments Agency (Agence des Participations de
l'Etat) website, respectively under Côte d'Azur (Nice) Airport (closing
expected before October 13, 2016) and Lyon airport (closing expected before October
The selection criteria will be the subject of intense scrutiny:
concerns have arisen since the awarding of the State stake in the
Toulouse airport to a Chinese consortium that offered the best
price and eliminated the traditional operators.1 Bidders
must now provide evidence of their previous experience in managing
airports, which means that financial investors must join a
consortium led by a company that has the relevant track record.
However, the main criteria should remain the financial interests of
the French State. The Nice Côte d'Azur airport is valued
at approximately €1.5 billion and the Lyon
Saint-Exupéry airport at approximately €900
1 The French Republic privatized the airport of
Toulouse-Blagnac by the Decree # 2014-795 dated July 11, 2014 and
the ministerial Order dated March 20, 2015. The State sold 49.9
percent of its shares in the airport company for a total of
€341,292,805 to CASIL (China Airport Synergy Investment
Limited), a company owned by a Chinese consortium comprising
Shandong Hi-Speed Group and Friedmann Pacific AM. The ministerial
order dated April 15, 2015 also provides that the French State has
a put option for its remaining 10.01 percent of the shares in the
airport company. Nevertheless, the government said it was not its
intention to exercise this option.
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