Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Bid rules eased, Sangster operator joins hunt for NMIA

Published:Friday | May 5, 2017 | 5:00 AMNeville Graham

The majority partner in MBJ Airports Limited, the consortium that operates Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, is going after a second airport concession.

Grupo Aeroportuario Del Pacifico, SAB de CV, a Mexican company, is among the nine bidders who have indicated interest in the Norman Manley International Airport public-private partnership project.

The Jamaican Government, through Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), is seeking a concessionaire for NMIA, who will own and operate the airport for at least 30 years. In its first attempt at divesting NMIA two years ago - a process that DBJ scrapped after none of the pre-qualified contenders followed through with bids - the investors in Sangster Airport were barred from bidding.

"In the 2015 tender process, shareholders in MBJ Airport Limited were excluded from participation, however, the exclusion has been removed in the current RFQ," the DBJ told the Financial Gleaner via email, but did not explain the rationale for lifting the restriction.

Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico (GAP) owns 74.5 per cent of MBJ Airport, while its partner Vantage Airport Group of Canada holds 24.5 per cent. MBJ Airport Ltd, which has operated Sangster Airport since 2003, declined to comment on Grupo's interest in NMIA.

Alongside GAP, the other eight contenders who have tendered 'request for qualification' bids for NMIA are Vinci Airports SAS; Cedicor SA; Acciona Concesiones, SL; GMR Infrastructure Limited; Zurich Airport; Corporacion del Este, SAS; EGIS Projects SA; and Jamaica Infra Development Partners Limited.

Each of the RFQ applicants represent a consortium, but DBJ Managing Director Milverton Reynolds says they will not disclose the names of the other partners in all the investor groups, only those that make it to the second round of the bidding process.

"It is important to note that the full composition of each consortium has not been divulged at this time and, therefore, does not represent the full complement of each applicant," said Reynolds, "Those details will be shared when we announce the names of the firms which have pre-qualified."

Sources indicate that two Jamaican conglomerates, Jamaica Producers Group and GraceKennedy, are part of two separate consortia on the list.

The groups that pre-qualify are expected to bid on the airport by November, while the winning bid is expected to be selected in December, according to DBJ. The estimated timelines set out at www.nmiaopportuity.com indicate that the commercial closing for the concession agreement with the winning bidder is set for February 2018, and the financial closing of the transaction is now September 2018.

Sangster is Jamaica's largest airport, through which more than 3.8 million passengers pass annually. NMIA's passenger flow is less than half that, at around 1.6 million.

The selected operator for NMIA is expected to invest at least US$100 million in the airport's facilities over the life of the concession.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com