Penta wants to sue government over airport

THE FINANCIAL group Penta, part of the TwoOne consortium that won the tender for a 66-percent stake in Bratislava airport, is considering suing the state at an arbitration court in Paris.

The government of Robert Fico decided yesterday to withdraw from the sale of the stake as TwoOne failed to submit the required approval of the Slovak antitrust office (PMU) by August 15.

The PMU announced on August 14 that it needed more time to examine the acquisition of the Bratislava airport by TwoOne. The consortium also includes Vienna Airport and Austrian Raiffeisen Zentralbank.

"We consider the withdrawal from the privatization contract to be invalid," said Penta's Jozef Oravkin, labeling the current situation the result of "a political deal" between the government and the PMÚ, the SME daily wrote.

The sale of the majority stakes in Bratislava and Košice airports was approved by the previous Mikuláš Dzurinda government. New PM Fico has opposed the sale of the Bratislava airport from the start, partly due to fears that by selling it to TwoOne, a regional monopoly might be created. Vienna airport is only 50 kilometers away from Bratislava.

The previous government also provided for the possibility that the PMÚ would not approve the sale of the airport to TwoOne. In such a case, talks with the bidder that finished second in the privatization tender, the Spanish Abertis consortium, were to be opened. However, the Fico government canceled this resolution as well.

TwoOne is still likely to gain Košice airport, as the PMÚ approved this sale on August 14.

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