Hungarian government plans majority stake in Budapest airport
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government aims to start negotiations to acquire a majority stake in Hungary’s main international airport in Budapest, he said on Friday, saying his privatization was the opposite to the country’s “strategic interests”.
Earlier, the pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet reported that the Orban government, which has expanded state ownership in several key sectors, is considering controlling a majority stake in the airport, citing unspecified industry sources.
The majority owner of the airport is now the Canadian PSP retirement investment management group with just over 55%. Special Investments CPG Singapore and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in Canada each hold approximately 20%.
The Hungarian state currently has no stake in the airport, which was privatized in 2005.
“Since then it has become quite evident that the sale was against Hungary’s strategic interests and (the sale) also made investments to improve the quality of service for passengers extremely difficult,” the government said in its statement. communicated.
Budapest Airport is a fast growing mid-size airport that has benefited from a boom in low-cost travel, but faces a tough market due to the coronavirus pandemic which has sharply reduced the number of travelers .
The government said it had entrusted the task of acquiring a majority stake for the Hungarian state to Minister of Innovation and Technology Laszlo Palkovics. He will be in charge of the process as government commissioner from June 1.
The Budapest Airport press office did not immediately respond to questions emailed for comment.
Orban, a nationalist who often disagrees with the European Commission on a range of issues, has previously said he wants to see the airport in national hands, but so far its owners have shown no interest in selling it. .
Hungarian media reported last year that local property management group Indotek was part of a consortium in talks to buy Budapest airport, citing Indotek owner and CEO Daniel Jellinek.
Indotek was leading a consortium of Hungarian and American companies, Jellinek said at the time, adding that none of the members had political connections.
Indotek did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent by Reuters by email on Friday.
Reporting by Marton Dunai and Gergely Szakacs, editing by Gareth Jones