October 3, 2018 / 11:11 AM / 15 days ago

Manchester Airports Group to bid for Sofia Airport tender

SOFIA, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Manchester Airports Group (MAG) announced on Wednesday it plans to bid for a 35-year concession to operate Sofia Airport, Bulgaria's biggest hub.

Britain's largest airport group said its offer would be supported by Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) - a Chinese state-owned construction company with revenue of $7 billion in 2017.

"We have focused our international activities on the development of Sofia Airport, which can become a pearl in our crown and our most significant investment in another country," MAG Chief Executive Charlie Cornish told Reuters.

MAG operates Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted Airport, Britain's fourth largest. It is owned by Australian pension fund IFM Investors and a group of regional councils around Manchester.

Bulgaria's Transport Ministry has said it expects the airport to generate revenue of 3.46 billion euros ($4 billion) over the 35-year period. Offers must be submitted by Oct. 22.

The Bulgarian government agreed to re-launch the tender in July after the original concession plan was scrapped under an interim government which held office for three months in 2017.

German airport operator Fraport, which has stakes in airports in the Bulgarian Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas, and Switzerland's Flughafen Zuerich have informed Reuters that they were following the process but refused to say if they would submit bids.

Before the previous tender was scrapped last year, Turkey's Limak Holding, Russia's VTB Capital and Flughafen Zuerich showed interest in a joint bid, sources close to the matter had said.

Turkish airports group TAV, in which French Groupe ADP has a stake, also expressed an interest in the previous tender, Bulgarian media reported. The company was not available for immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

$1 = 0.8651 euros Reporting by Angel Krasimirov

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