Six finalists are in the running for a contract to privatize Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority have announced.
The operators of Zurich and Frankfurt airports are among the group pared from 12, according to a statement the P3 authority released Friday.
Investment banks still in the running include Macquarie and Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners.
The latter in June won a 40-year P3 toll-road concession contract in Puerto Rico, the financial closing of which occurred Friday.
Finalists are bidding for a concession of up to 50 years to run Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, the Caribbean’s busiest.
The authority hopes to have a winning bidder by the end of this year or early next.
The short-listed consortiums are Flughafen Zürich AG, Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP), Camargo Corrêa Investimento em Infra-Estructura, and Gestión e Ingeniería IDC; Fraport AG, which runs Frankfurt’s airport, and Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners; GMR Infrastructure and Incheon International Airport Corp.; Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste and Highstar Capital; Grupo Aeropuertos Avance (Macquarie and Ferrovial Aeropuertos); and Puerto Rico Gateway Group (GE Capital Aviation, the Allegheny County, Pa., Airport Authority, TIAA-Cref, OpTrust, and Airmall USA).
“We are very enthusiastic about the reputation and level of experience of the consortia that will go on to the procurement process,” Public-Private Authority executive director David Alvarez said in a statement.
Puerto Rico officials say LMM has underperformed against key Caribbean peers in recent years.
While airport P3 arrangements are common worldwide, Puerto Rico looks to become the first to complete such a project in the United States under a Federal Aviation Administration pilot program.
Puerto Rico’s proximity to Central and South America is strategic for airline traffic.
Government officials want to reduce most, if not all, of the more than $800 million of debt the Ports Authority is carrying.
Moody’s Investors Service last month downgraded Puerto Rico’s general obligation bond rating to Baa1 from A3, with a negative outlook.
Moody’s cited severely unfunded retirement systems, weak economic trends, and a tendency to fund budget gaps with borrowing.
Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have assigned BBB-plus and BBB ratings to those bonds, respectively.
Twice in the past two months, the P3 authority has issued statements denying conflict-of-interest charges related to the airport bidding, leveled by a member of the commonwealth’s House.
Rep. Charlie Hernandez accused conflict related to Macquarie and law firm Mayer Brown LLP.
Also last week, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority and Autopistas Metropolitanas de Puerto Rico LLC — known locally as Metropistas and consisting of Abertis Infraestructuras and Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners — closed on the PR-22 and PR-5 brownfield P3 project.
The lump-sum payment in exchange of the concession, $1.136 billion, was $56 million higher because of lower interest rates, the authority said in a statement.
Metropistas will also invest $50 million of road improvements during the first three years of the agreement.
In addition, the consortium will invest another $600 million for maintenance work throughout the balance of the contract.