Sunday, February 25

Turkey’s IC, MAHB seek deal on 2nd Istanbul airport

IC Holding AS and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) agreed to collaborate for Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen, as Turkish company explores acquiring a stake in the airport.

Discussions are at a preliminary stage between MAHB and IC Holding, a Turkish infrastructure company and airport operator, and may or may not result in the latter acquiring a stake at the airport, according to people, who asked not to be named as the deliberations are confidential.

IC Holding declined to comment. MAHB said it is entering a “strategic collaboration” with IC Holding but refrained from disclosing further details.

Sabiha Gokcen Airport named Serhat Sogukpinar as the new chief executive as part of the collaboration, according to a separate statement on Dec 26. Sogukpinar currently serves as head of IC Holding’s transport and infrastructure group.

The airport, which lies south-east about an hour’s drive from the city of almost 17 million people, served almost 34 million passengers between January and November 2023, up 21% from 2022, making it the third-busiest airport in the country in terms of customers, according to state airports authority DHMI.

IC Holding operates the smaller Kutahya airport in Turkey and has taken on turn-key projects to build airfields in Vietnam, Bulgaria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, as well as other parts of Turkey, according to its website. The Ankara-based group sold its 49% stake in Antalya Airport, Turkey’s second-largest, to TAV Havalimanlari Holding AS for €360 million (RM1.83 billion) in 2018. Fraport AG is the other partner in the airport.

MAHB was part of a consortium that won a €1.9 billion contract to operate the Turkish airport in 2008 for 20 years. In 2013, it agreed to raise its holdings to 60% by acquiring a 40% stake held by Indian partner GMR Infrastructure Ltd for €225 million. It bought the remaining 40% from Turkey’s Limak Holding in 2014 for €285 million.

The Asian company previously had intentions to sell a stake in the airport, and the asset drew some interest from international investors as well as from Turkish Airlines before the pandemic hit the world in early 2020. Turkish Airlines’ offer for an 80% stake in 2018 valued the airport at almost €940 million, Bloomberg reported at the time.

On Dec 25, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated Sabiha Gokcen’s second runway. The construction of the strip had been delayed for years as the country focused on completing the main Istanbul Airport. Erdogan said that the new runway’s operation would double Sabiha Gokcen airport’s capacity. Investment for the expansion was about US$970 million (RM4.53 billion), Erdogan said.

Talks on a possible stake sale in the airport company was first reported by Turkish website tclira.com. — Bloomberg

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