14 Jun 2018 10:21

Vnukovo to buy out govt's blocking stake in airport, raise stake to 38.5%

MOSCOW. June 14 (Interfax) - The chairman and co-owner of Vnukovo International Airport, Vitaly Vantsev will exercise an option to buy out a stake of 25% plus one share in Russia's third largest airport from the Federal Property Agency, he said in an interview with business daily Vedomosti published on Thursday.

"The option to buy out the state stake is provided for by the JSC Vnukovo International Airport shareholder agreement. I exercised this option. The deal will be preceded by an appraisal of the value of the shares," Vantsev said.

The Federal Property Agency received a notification from Vnukovo's private shareholders on March 30, a representative of the agency confirmed, the paper reported. He said the sale of the stake could take place within six months of the date on which notification was received.

The consolidation of Vnukovo private and state assets was completed in 2017, giving the Property Agency a blocking stake, Vantsev's companies 13.5% and Vladimir Skoch 61.5%. Skoch is the father of Alisher Usmanov's partner in the Metalloinvest group, Andrei Skoch, who transferred assets to his father after being elected to the State Duma in 2007. Vladimir Skoch is not involved in Vnukovo's day-to-day management.

Skoch will also not participate in the buyout of the state stake, a source close to one of Vnukovo's shareholders said. Initially there were such intentions, but they were dropped after Andrei Skoch was included in the U.S. Specially Designated Nationalists List (SDN List) on April 6, the source added.

At the end of March, Qatar Airways said it wanted to buy a 25% stake in Vnukovo. The airline is doing due diligence on the airport, but the details of a possible deal have not been discussed, Vantsev said.

There are also others wanting to invest in Vnukovo, he said, without naming them. Vantsev said he wants to bring in a co-investor through a new share issue rather than the direct sale of shares, so the airport itself receives the funds.

Under the Vnukovo shareholder agreement, the state's stake is not supposed to drop below a blocking stake. With a new share issue this would be unavoidable, so a decision was made to buy out the state stake.

"Privatization on the whole is welcomed by the government, and we will have the possibility to contribute funds to capital for the airport's development, including modernization of airfield infrastructure, which requires big investments," Vantsev said.

In 2016, for the consolidation, state assets at Vnukovo were valued at 4.3 billion rubles, Vantsev said. The state stake can be bought out at the lower of two prices, the Property Agency said earlier: the valuation for consolidation plus 35% or the current valuation plus 20%, but not less than the price at consolidation plus 25%.

Vantsev plans to buy out the state stake with his own money and borrowed funds.

Vnukovo handled 18.12 million passengers in 2017, and expects to handle 18.5 million this year.