Yesterday, the Spanish Government decided to postpone the Aena’s IPO which was expected for November, 12. The reason behind this is that there was a “formal defect” in choosing the auditor for that process; there was not a public tender. This auditor is supposed to be responsible to ensure that the company accounts are in order before being listed on the Spanish stock exchange.
Yesterday, ElDiario.es informed that, last week, the Government’s board should have approved the Aena’s IPO for a 28% of the company to go public. Afterwards, the Spanish Agency for market regulation – CNMV – was supposed to authorise the brochure. However, the work group created by the government to supervise the privatisation process decided to postpone it because of the above mention formal defect. This, will force Aena to invite tenders for the so-called comfort letter to be performed. This letter is a document which confirms the company’s solvency.
Different Spanish media explain today that, at the heart of the problem lies the disagreement among the Minister of Development – Ana Pastor – who is in favour of the privatisation, and the ministers of Finance and Economic Affairs – Luis de Guindos and Cristóbal Montoro respectively – who are not so fan of this operation.
For the above reasons, according to vozpópuli, Aena will now work to go public in the second fortnight of February. “It will be then or never”. A further delay in this operation would definitely kill the process, considering the different election campaigns expected for 2015 in which many things could change.
Both the airport manager and the ministry of development admit this is a heavy blow to the Spain Brand, which has impact on the image of reformism that the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, intended to transmit abroad. Bearing in mind that the official cause of the postponement is the formal defect, auditors to perform the comfort letter will be invited to tender by Aena next Monday.
Uncertain political situation
The core shareholders have the commitment to keep their offers for Aena until mid April. However, after that, things might get even more difficult for the privatisation process. The surveys indicate that the local and regional elections might produce changes in several Autonomous Communities that are currently governed by PP, which is the Spanish Government political party. The other Autonomous Communities have already said that they are against the privatisation. Almost immediately afterwards, there will be General Elections, where it is expected that PP lose, at least, the absolute majority that they got in 2011. Thus agreements with other parties will be required, where the airports may have an crucial role.
As a consequence of all this, unless the circumstances of the market are ideal in February for Aena to complete this process, it will have to be definitely stopped again.
Photo: Aena logos at Barcelona airport / Lali Masriera