Apparently, when opportunism and Socialism come into conflict, the French are willing to go with opportunism. The French government had decided to get into the hot market for transportation infrastructure plays by floating about one-third of Aeroports de Paris -- the operator of 13 airports near Paris (including Charles de Gaulle), as well as other facilities around the world, including Beijing.

Aeroports de Paris' cadre of bankers (Caylon, Citigroup (NYSE:C), HSBC (NYSE:HBC), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)) placed over 25 million shares and raised about $1.4 billion in the process. The French being French, though, you know there had to be a quirk -- in this case, half of the shares were reserved for retail investors and they were given a 1-euro (or about 2%) discount to the official IPO price.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find adequate financial information on Aeroports to say whether it was floated at a fair price or not. I do know that the state gave the company a new contract that will allow it a 4% increase in airport charges and the possibility of another 1% if certain customer satisfaction targets are met. As you might imagine, this doesn't thrill AirFrance-KLM (NYSE:AKH).

Given that the offering was oversubscribed 4.5 times over and that the valuations on operators like BAA (which is being acquired), Fraport, Copenhagen Airports, and Auckland International are pretty rich, I'm not thinking that these shares are going to be especially cheap. Frankly, the only really interesting-looking public airports would seem to be the Mexican duo of Aeroportuario del Pacifico (NYSE:PAC) and Aeroportuario del Sureste (NYSE:ASR).

In the meantime, I'm a little taken aback that these Euros are making a lot of money privatizing their airports (or at least, the operators of the airports). I mean, we're supposed to be the consummate capitalists, right? And if BAA or Aeroports de Paris is worth billions of dollars, I've got to think that the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta, as well as the New York Port Authority, are sitting on some pretty valuable assets.

For more Foolish flights of fancy:

Check out our suite of newsletters with a 30-day free trial to the newsletter service that best fits your investing style.

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).