Greece launches Athens airport IPO, trading debut seen around Feb. 7

FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens

By Angeliki Koutantou and Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro

ATHENS (Reuters) -Greece on Thursday launched an initial public offering (IPO) for a 30% stake in Athens International Airport, a sale which along with a company dividend could yield up to 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) for the state, according to sources.

The country is selling 90 million shares, through a combined offering to Greek and foreign investors and existing shareholders, in its biggest IPO after its 2010-2018 debt crisis.

The price range for the IPO of Athens International Airport, the operator of Greece's biggest airport, was set at 7.0 to 8.2 euros ($7.62 to $8.92) per share, implying a market value of 2.1 to 2.46 billion euros, the airport said in a statement.

The listing on the Athens Stock Exchange "is expected to take place on or about February 7", following the IPO which runs until Feb. 1, it said.

Final pricing will be determined following the six-day book-building period, while the free float is expected to be around 25% of the company's outstanding shares, the airport added.

The Greek state expects to rake in up to 1.2 billion euros from the sale and a large company dividend paid as part of the deal, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Athens International Airport has agreed to pay shareholders a 685 million-euro dividend in connection with the IPO, more than half of which will go to government entities, one of the sources said, requesting anonymity as the information is not yet public.

AviAlliance, which holds a 40% stake in the airport, has agreed to buy a further 10% of the lucrative asset at a premium over the IPO price, and the Copelouzos family, who now owns 5% in the airport, will acquire a further 1% stake, both as cornerstone investors, the airport said.

Greece could raise more than 1 billion euros in proceeds from the dividend, the IPO and the cornerstone investment, the sources said.

Greece is heavily reliant on tourism and Athens airport handled more than 28 million passengers last year, accounting for 35% of passenger traffic through all the nation's airports.

($1 = 0.9189 euro)

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, additional reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro, Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Evans)