Portugal says to sell airport group ANA to Vinci of France

French civil engineering group Vinci has been selected to buy the Portuguese airport operator ANA, government spokesman Luis Marques Guedes said on Thursday, in a deal that helps meet the terms of a 2011 international financial bailout for Portugal.

The government's decision was unveiled following a cabinet meeting, and was widely expected since Vinci had submitted the highest offer.

The winning bid amounted to 3.08 billion euros ($4.07 billion) said treasury minister Maria Luis Albuquerque.

It was "the highest financially" but also "the most interesting from a strategic point of view", she added.

Three other bids had been submitted for ANA, notably one by the German group Fraport, which manages the third biggest European hub in Frankfurt.

Corporacion America, an Argentinian group, and Zurich airport manager Flughaven Zuerich, which had teamed up with the investment fund GIP and a Canadian pension fund, were the other bidders.

ANA manages 10 Portuguese airports that handled 286,000 flights and served 29.57 million passengers in 2011.

In May 2011, Portugal obtained a financial aid package worth 78 billion euros from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, in exchange for which Lisbon committed to a three-year austerity plan and reform programme that included the sale of public assets worth 5.5 billion euros.

Sales of stakes in the Portuguese electricity companies EDP and REN to investors from China and Oman have already earned 3.3 billion euros for the Portuguese government.

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