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