European Commission clears Hungarian Govt/VINCI takeover of Budapest Airport, now 'close to a deal'

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The private sector ownership and management of Budapest's Ferenc Liszt International Airport has been a saga since it was originally privatised (75%) to BAA plc in 2005.

The political party that was then in opposition and is now in power - Fidesz, led by the volatile prime minister Viktor Orbán - was adamantly opposed to the deal right from the start and vowed to overturn it.

After numerous twists and turns along the way, his government appears at last to have achieved that aim, by hook or by crook. A deal has been hatched by which a state-owned organisation, Corvinus, and the global airports operator VINCI will take it over, thereby relegating the current participants, led by Germany's AviAlliance. That deal is now "close" according to the government.

Central and Eastern Europe has always been a tricky sector for airport investors to operate in. This development comes just as Russia renationalises St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport, albeit under quite different circumstances, to the detriment of another German company: Fraport.

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