Athens airport IPO draws strong demand from investors

English Section / 5 februarie



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The initial public offering (IPO) of a 30 percent stake in Athens International Airport, Greece's largest tourist gateway, has attracted strong demand from investors, the airport operator said on Friday, cited by Reuters . This marks the first successful launch of a major IPO in Europe in 2024

The offering, which launched on January 25 and closed on February 1, comes after two weak years for European IPOs due to rising debt costs and geopolitical uncertainty. Last year was the worst since 2009 for the global IPO market, with only $120 billion raised, according to Dealogic figures.

The Greek Privatization Agency (HRADF) is selling 90 million shares of Athens International Airport in a combined offer to Greek and foreign investors and existing shareholders. This is the largest initial public offering in the country since the 2010-2018 debt crisis.

Investor orders in this IPO exceeded 8.6 billion euros ($9.36 billion), the airport said in a statement, which said the offer was priced at 8.20 euros per share, at the upper end of range considered, of 7-8.20 euros. Thus, the entire company is valued at 2.46 billion euros.

HRADF will raise euro785m from the deal, with AviAlliance, which owns a 40% stake in the airport, decided to buy a further 10% at a price of euro9.758 per share, which contains a premium to the IPO price, the airport operator indicated.

The company's shares are expected to trade on the Athens Stock Exchange on February 7.

Greece is a top tourist destination in the Mediterranean, and Athens Airport handled more than 28 million passengers last year, representing 35% of the number of passengers that passed through all the country's airports.

In September last year, the Greek Minister of Finance, Kostis Hatzidakis, announced that Greece intends to list Athens International Airport on the stock exchange in 2024. After emerging from a decade-long financial crisis in 2018 and receiving three international aid packages worth 260 billion euros, Greece sold stakes in ports and energy companies to boost competition and to reduce his debt. Also, Greece has managed to put its finances in order, and its economy is performing better than other countries in the euro zone. "We are striving to reach our fiscal targets, to regain an investment grade rating from the major rating agencies and to further reduce the public debt," Hatzidakis said last year.

Later, the rating agencies Fitch and S&P improved the rating on Greece's solvency to "investment grade" (recommended for investments), from "junk", Reuters recalls.

Now, by listing its biggest airport operator, Greece is trying to signal to investors that the country has recovered nearly 15 years after its mounting debt necessitated an international bailout and rocked the euro zone.

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