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Future of Galeão Airport Project Becomes Uncertain as Infraero Backs Out

12/01/2017 - 11h23

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ALEXA SALOMÃO
EDITOR OF "BUSINESS"
JULIO WIZIACK
FROM BRASÍLIA
JOANA CUNHA
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT REPORTING FROM RIO

The administrative council of Infraero - Brazil's state run airport infrastructure company - decided in a meeting on Wednesday (the 29th) that, contrary to what was expected, it will not seek to compose the RioGaleão consortium, which manages the Tom Jobim International Airport, in Rio de Janeiro.

The investment, which amounts to R$ 1.4 billion (US$ 428 million), is the result of an agreement in which Chinese company HNA was angling to take over the stake of construction firm Odebrecht in the consortium. However, Infraero's decision may lead HNA to also back out of the enterprise, meaning a new private sector partner would be required for the consortium.

Infraero is obliged to accompany its private sector partners in capitalization processes in airports where it holds a 49% stake. Similar contributions of capital are expected at airports Confins (Minas Gerais) and Guarulhos (São Paulo).

Divulgação-9.MAI.2014/Infraero
The Tom Jobim International Airport, in Rio de Janeiro
The Tom Jobim International Airport, in Rio de Janeiro

Folha found out that the decision arrived at was not a strictly technical one. Rather, it was part of a strategy implemented by the Party of the Republic (PR) to try to get Chinese company HNA to back down, opening the way to possibly "re-nationalize" the share of the Galeão airport in question. The Party of the Republic has close ties with former congressman Valdemar Costa Neto, who holds considerable influence over Infraero.

When asked to comment, Infraero stated that "the decision made by Infraero's administrative council was merely one of several stages to analyze requests for funding made by RioGaleão. Infraero's role is to arrive at a technical decision. The final decision is in the hands of the Federal Government". The RioGaleão consortium said in a statement that it expects procedures to go as planned.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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