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French government all set to fully privatise Paris airports

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French government all set to fully privatise Paris airports
Photo: AFP
11:30 CET+01:00
The French government is set to launch its first major sell off with Paris airports set to go under the hammer.

The Local reported back in December last year that President Emmanuel Macron was planning a spring clear out with a raft of privatisations in the hope of raising more than €10 billion.

The first asset to be sold off will be the Aeroports de Paris, the group which runs the French capital's three airports - Orly, Charles De Gaulle (CDG) and Le Bourget.

Passengers who have ranked Orly and CDG airport among the worst in Europe will no doubt be hoping that any privatisation will improve their all-round experience of travelling through the French capital's two hubs.

The French state owns a 50.6 percent stake in the company and appears ready to sell the whole lot.

It could earn up to €8.2 billion if it sold its 50.6 percent stake in a company worth €15 billion. Although it looked likely that the government would hold on to part of the group, which has seen its value triple since 2012.

France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will meet with his economy minister Bruno Le Maire and Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne on Saturday to finalise the sell-off.

To pave the way for the sell-off the government will have to introduce a new law that allows them to flog their total stake. Currently the law states that they must own at least 50 percent of the capital in the group.

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Sources close to the government told BFM TV that there are enough safeguards in place over security and the 6,600 hectares of land that the airports Orly and Charles de Gaulle are built on that ministers believe the state does not need to hold on to any of its stake.

The state envisages however putting a time limit on how long a private company can operate the airports for before the contract is up for renewal.

"It is out of the question to give a private actor the running of the airports for eternity," a source told BFM TV.

An operating licence of between 70 and 90 years will be imposed on any buyer in order to be long enough not to devalue the company or hamper any privatisation.

According to reports a number of groups have already expressed an interest in purchasing the government's stake. The favourites appear to be French group Vinci, which already owns an 8 percent stake.

In a 2017 survey Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle, which represent 52.1 percent of all French air traffic, ranked near the bottom of the pack for European airports in a survey from consumer magazine UFC-Que Choisir.

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