France’s Groupe ADP to Buy 49% in GMR Airports

The GMR Group struck a deal to sell a large minority stake in its airports business to France’s Groupe ADP, while saying that it has called off a stake-sale agreement signed last year with a Tata Group-led consortium.

In a late night announcement, GMR Group said it will sell 49% in its airports business for ₹10,780 crore to Groupe ADP, which runs the three airports in Paris. A spokesperson for GMR said it had received a better valuation from the French company, and that a deal with a global airport operator would offer better synergies.

The combined entity would be the world’s biggest airport operator in terms of passengers handled, GMR said in a statement. As per 2019 data, GMR Airports and Groupe ADP had handled a total of 336.5 million passengers.

The spokesperson added that GMR had parted ways with the Tata-led consortium “amicably”.

A statement from Groupe ADP said the two-step deal will see the French company initially buying 24.99% in GMR Airports, and later topping it up by purchasing 24.01% more. GMR Infra will be left with 51%.

The GMR Group will raise ₹9,780 crore through a secondary sale of shares while Groupe ADP will infuse an additional ₹1,000 crore of equity. “The first tranche of ₹5,248 crore will be received by the GMR Group immediately. This money will help deleverage the group further and result in improved cash flows and profitability,” GMR said in a statement.

The French company said it will get equal board representation and the right to appoint key executives. “Groupe ADP will be granted extended rights, including the presence of board members at GMR Airports’ board equal to that of GMR Infrastructure board members. Groupe ADP will also have the right to appoint predetermined key executives within GMR Airports.”

Last year, the GMR Group had signed an agreement with a consortium led by Tata-owned TRIL Urban Transport, and comprising an affiliate of Singapore’s GIC as well as Hong Kong’s SSG Capital Management to sell 44.44% stake in its airports business for ₹8,500 crore. But the deal hit a hurdle over the rule that an entity owning a stake in an Indian airline can’t own more than 10% in a local airport.

Tata Sons owns close to half of Vistara and AirAsia India, and the earlier proposed 20% stake in GMR’s airports business would give it 12.8% holding in the Delhi airport. The deal never received government approval. The new deal values GMR’s airports business at ₹22,000 crore, 22% more than what it was valued at by the Tata Group-led consortium.

GMR operates India’s busiest airport in Delhi and the fourth-busiest in Hyderabad. It is building a new airport in Goa and has won the contract to manage the airport at Nagpur. It operates the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines and is building a new airport in Crete Island, Greece.

Groupe ADP operates three airports in Paris — Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget — besides 26 other airports internationally.

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