Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd has indicated its interest in buying out GMR Infra’s entire 40 per cent stake in Istanbul Airport for €225 million (about Rs 1,900 crore).

In a filing to the Malaysian stock exchange, Malaysia Airport Holdings, one of the shareholders of Istanbul’s Sabiha Gocken International Airport and LGM Tourism, said it is seeking to exercise its right of first refusal for acquiring the stake owned by GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

GMR is evaluating the offer made by the Malaysian partner in the project. MAHB currently owns 20 per cent in Istanbul Airport and Limak Holdings the remaining 40 per cent stake.

Sidharath Kapur, Chief Financial Officer of the airports vertical of GMR Group, told Business Line that they were in the process of evaluating the proposal. The process could take up to three months to conclude after securing various regulatory approvals.

According to the proposal, Malaysia Airport Holdings will buy GMR Infrastructure’s 40 per cent stake in the airport operations and LGM’s hotel and catering operations under the airport holding company.

The Malaysian company, in its filing, stated that it exercised the right of first refusal through an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary Malaysia Airports MSC Sdn Bhd. It expects to enter into a share purchase agreement with the GMR Group.

This development comes less than week after GMR Group Chairman G.M. Rao’s assertion that the group was not planning to exit Istanbul Airport for now and that talk of a stake sale were “market rumours”. The likely divestment of stake in this airport is part of the GMR group’s move to pare its debt pegged at about Rs 40,000 crore.

On the BSE, GMR Infra shares closed at Rs 23.95, up 0.42 per cent.

(This article was published on December 24, 2013)
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