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Airport Operator to Be Sold to Fraport Today

Ljubljana, 05 September (STA) - A 75.5% stake in airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana will be sold to German airport operator Fraport later on Friday, the Slovenia Sovereign Holding (SSH), which manages the country's state assets, announced. A press conference on the sale is scheduled for 3 PM.

As part of the sale, the company which manages one of Europe's biggest hubs, Frankfurt Airport, will be granted a 40-year lease on most of the land on which the infrastructure of Ljubljana airport is located.

In addition to the SSH, the sales contract will also be signed by several minority shareholders: state-run Pension Fund Management (KAD), insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav and pension insurer Modra Zavarovalnica, as well the financial firms KD Skladi, Alpen Invest and Abanka Vipa.

The signing is due to be held in the afternoon ahead of the scheduled press conference at which SSH representatives and officials of Aerodrom Ljubljana and Franport will be present.

The announcement of the sale comes days after SSH said it was entering exclusive negotiations with Fraport on the terms.

A rival bid from French airport operator Vinci Airports was thereby excluded, although the company subsequently raised its bid several times. According to reports this was not enough to beat out Fraport's bid.

Vinci Airports today requested a new round of negotiations on the sale, but its proposal appears to have been rejected.

The sellers have not said publicly how much they will raise from the sale, although business daily Finance reports that Fraport will pay EUR 58 per share, which values Aerodrom Ljubljana at EUR 220m and the 75.5% stake at EUR 166m.

The operator of Slovenia's leading international airport saw a rise in passenger and cargo traffic in the first half of the year, as nearly 600,000 passengers (up 3.7% y/y) and 9,600 tonnes of cargo (up 7.6%) passed through.

Its half-year net profit was however down by 74.6% on the same period last year to EUR 516,000, which it blamed on impairments from its stake in aircraft maintenance firm Adria Airways Tehnika.

Opened in late 1963, Ljubljana International Airport is currently serviced by 8 carriers operating scheduled flights and several operators with charter flights.

Aerodrom Ljubljana is the third company to be sold from the list of 15 included in the first phase of privatisation by the outgoing government, after the privatisation of chemical group Helios and laser maker Fotona.

Its sale was delayed somewhat by a controversial government decision to freeze privatisation in July due to the elections, but the process regained traction in August when the decision was lifted.

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