Ljubljana Airport on sale while Adria waits
Adria Airways and its hub Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport are both expected to be privatised in 2014. While the process for the sale of Slovenia’s largest airport has begun, there has been no clear timeframe given on when Adria Airways could be put up on the market. The Slovenian government has selected both as part of fifteen state owned companies to be privatised in an attempt to cut the country's budget deficit and avoid becoming the latest euro zone member to seek a bailout.
Adria’s last privatisation attempt in 2012 was shrouded in secrecy. Last August, the government offered 74.8% of the airline’s shares and interested parties had until September 2012 to submit non binding bids. The Assets Management Agency (AUKN) confirmed that ten parties submitted non binding offers but declined to give out their names. Up until now there has been no information given on who submitted their offers nor has the privatisation attempt officially been declared a failure. It is believed that Welcome Air, a small Austrian based airline operating two turboprop aircraft and the Dutch company Panta Holdings, which last year purchased the German airline OLT Express (which has since gone bankrupt), were amongst the bidders. This July, the Slovenian carrier began selling off some of its assets including its flight school, hangars and office building in order to raise capital. The results of the tender procedure, which came to a close in August, have never been revealed. However, on Friday, Ljubljana Airport confirmed it will buy Adria’s hangar. The deal might not go down well with the European Commission which, amongst other things, is investigating a conflict of interest relating to Ljubljana Airport’s purchase of a 52.3% stake in the airline’s maintenance division, Adria Airways Tehnika, in 2011.
So far, China Southern Airlines has been rumoured as a potential investor not only in Adria but Ljubljana Airport as well. By the end of the month the airport is set to choose its financial advisor for its privatisation process. A total of six companies have submitted their bids in an attempt to guide the airport to a majority sale. The government has offered a 75% stake in the airport. The KD Fund, a minority shareholder, says operators of Venice, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Zurich and Vienna airports, as well as Chinese companies and private funds, have all shown interest in purchasing shares at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik.