UPDATE 1-Budapest Airport owners take first step towards sale to Hungarian govt

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BUDAPEST, Nov 15 (Businesshala) – The owners of Budapest airport have entered into a due diligence process with the Hungarian government, its majority shareholder said on Monday, potentially the first step towards the sale of assets to the state.

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Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a nationalist who is often in conflict with the European Commission, has said for months that he wants to see the airport in domestic hands, but its owners have so far shown no interest in selling it. .

Local media reported late last month that Hungary had made an offer of 4.44 billion euros ($5.08 billion) for the airport, a figure that neither its largest shareholder Aviation GmbH, formerly Hochtief Airport GmbH, nor the government. had confirmed.

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But Avaliance confirmed on Monday that a consortium led by the Hungarian government had submitted a revised non-binding proposal to buy the airport.

“The Hungarian government has accepted our terms and conditions to begin formal negotiations. We have therefore decided to enter into a due diligence process,” Aviolence said in a statement.

“While this is potentially the first step towards the sale of the airport, we would like to emphasize that the outcome of such a process is not predetermined.”

Ever since Orban, 58, took power in 2010, his government has promoted Hungarian ownership in strategic sectors such as energy, banking and media.

Orban, who faces a close election next year, told a party congress on Sunday that his government would buy back the airport and invest in the fast-growing hub, which had benefited from a boom in low-cost travel before the pandemic. .

AviAlliance, which holds a 55.44% stake in the airport, is owned by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada (PSP Investments). Singapore’s GIC Special Investments and Canada’s Cais de Depot and Placement du Québec (CDPQ) each hold a little over 21%.

$1 = 0.8743 Euro Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by David Evans and Jan Harvey

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