Bulgaria’s competition watchdog received formal appeals from all four losing bidders in the Sofia Airport concession tender before the deadline on July 29, which will delay the signing of the contract with the Transport Ministry’s chosen winner, the consortium between French infrastructure investor Meridiam and Munich Airport.
The Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) logged complaints from the consortia fronted by Manchester Airports Group and Aéroports de Paris on July 26. Appeals from Germany’s Fraport and the tie-up between Swiss-based SSB Sauerwein & Schaefer and Copenhagen Airports were recorded on July 29.
CPC’s website only records the existence of the complaints, but does not display the filings themselves. The CPC is expected to merge the appeals into a single procedure.
The appeals were likely to focus on the technical scores awarded by the ministry as part of its assessment. Under the tender guidelines, financial commitments (the annual concession fee and total investment pledges), would count for 55 per cent of the final assessment, with the remaining 45 per cent covered by the technical score.
The Meridiam-Munich Airport tie-up offered the third-highest guaranteed annual concession fee and had the lowest investment commitment of 608 million euro, but it was one of three bids to receive full marks on the technical score part of the assessment.
Called in July 2018, this is Bulgaria’s second attempt to pick a concessionaire for the country’s largest air hub. The first process, launched in 2016 by the previous government of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, also saw several delays before it was scrapped by a caretaker government in March 2017.
Its arguments for calling the tender off closely mirrored those put forward by the opposition socialists, who claimed that it was against the state’s interests to offer the airport on concession. The socialists have made several calls in Parliament for the Cabinet to cancel the tender.
(Sofia Airport Terminal 2 photo: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)