Bulgaria’s Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov will ask the Cabinet to cancel the tender for a 35-year concession on Plovdiv Airport, the Transport Ministry said in a statement on October 4.
The minister’s stated reason was that the tender was called under different rules, before Bulgaria amended its legislation to transpose the 2014 EU directive on concessions.
Bulgaria called the tender in March 2016 and, after several delays, picked a consortium that included a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group as the winner.
It offered to invest 79 million euro for the duration of the concession, with an annual concession fee of 600 000 leva. The only other bidder in the tender offered 65.5 million euro in investment and 120 000 leva a year as a concession fee.
HNA Group later declined to sign a contract, as the conglomerate began a large-scale divestment campaign, selling most of the assets it had acquired over the previous three years in a multi-billion dollar debt-fueled spending spree.
Over the summer, Bulgarian authorities have shown reluctance to open talks with the second-placed bidder in the tender, while local authorities in Plovdiv asked the Cabinet to be given ownership of the airport.
The ministry’s statement gave no indication of when a new tender for Plovdiv Airport might be called.