Hungary looking for ‘friendly’ co-investor to acquire Budapest Airport
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s government is looking for a “friendly” co-investor to acquire Budapest Airport and to then also operate the airport, Economic Development Minister Marton Nagy said on Thursday.
Nagy said the government was seeking a majority stake but the issue was open to negotiation. He said the acquisition could be closed by the end of 2023, with the government in talks with several airport operators, one of them in Qatar.
Since Prime Minister Viktor Orban took power in 2010, his government has boosted Hungarian ownership in energy, banking, telecoms and the media, and has been planning to buy the airport for years. In 2021 Orban’s government submitted a non-binding offer to buy the airport but later the process was halted.
The government revived the idea in February 2023, when Nagy was put in charge of holding talks about the acquisition.
“The state would like to buy the airport together with a friendly co-investor, who could also be able to operate the airport,” Nagy told a briefing.
The biggest shareholder in Budapest Airport, with 55.44%, is AviAlliance GmbH, formerly Hochtief AirPort GmbH, owned by Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments).
AviAlliance said on Thursday that the Hungarian “government recently communicated its continuing interest in taking over the airport.”
“Even though the shareholders did not initiate the purchase, AviAlliance and its co-shareholders are obliged to consider any purchase offers in the interest of their funds,” AviAlliance said in an emailed reply to Reuters questions, adding it was a long-term oriented investor in the airport.
On Wednesday, Budapest Airport said it posted a net profit of 76.6 million euros on net sales revenues of 277.7 million euros in 2022, after two years of big losses amid the pandemic. It said it would not pay dividends to its shareholders.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Krisztina Than; Editing by Ros Russell and Frances Kerry)