Brussels, 19 June 2012
State aid: Commission finds privatisation of ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal does not involve state aid
The European Commission has concluded that the privatisation of ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal, S.A. was carried out on market terms and therefore did not involve any state aid in the meaning of EU rules.
ANA has a 50-year concession to operate the 8 main airports in Portugal, (Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Beja, and 4 airports in the Azores) and also (via a subsidiary), 2 further airports in Madeira. The sale of ANA to the French company Vinci Concessions S.A.S. for €3.08 billion was part of the privatisation plan prepared by Portugal as one of commitments made in the context of the Economic Adjustment Programme for Portugal.
The Commission has found that the negotiation process used by Portugal was open, transparent, and that the eligibility conditions of bidders relating to their size and experience of airport operation were not discriminatory.
The Commission has also found that none of the conditions Portugal attached to the sale significantly reduced the sales price and that a private seller might have attached similar conditions. Indeed, the accepted bid from Vinci was the highest bid received and clearly exceeded the valuation of the asset carried out by an independent evaluator in advance of the privatisation.
Finally, the Commission has noted that the timetable of the process allowed sufficient time in each phase for bidders to carry out a proper valuation of the assets upon which to base their bids.
The Commission has concluded that the sale was carried out under terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted (the market economy investor principle – MEIP). The sale therefore did not involve any state aid in the meaning of EU rules.
On 11 June, the Commission also cleared Vinci's acquisition of ANA under the EU Merger Regulation after finding that the merged entity would not be able to shut out suppliers on the upstream markets for mechanical, climatic and electrical engineering services because of the numerous credible competitors (see case M.6862).
Privatisations can be considered free of state aid in the meaning of the EU rules when they are carried out on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted when selling a similar asset (the market economy investor principle – MEIP).
If the MEIP is not respected, the public intervention constitutes state aid because it procured an economic advantage to the beneficiary that its competitors did not have. The Commission will then proceed to assess, whether such aid can be found compatible with the common EU rules that allow certain categories of aid.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.36197 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.