German ministry to review sale of regional airport to Russian investor - source

  • In Business
  • 2023-02-07 18:07:23Z
  • By Reuters

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Creditors of Frankfurt-Hahn airport in Germany have agreed to refer to the government a decision on whether a Russian billionaire named on a 2018 U.S. list of oligarchs can buy the airport, a source familiar with the proceedings told Reuters on Tuesday.

The insolvency administrator for Frankfurt-Hahn airport, in western Germany, said the investor and seller had decided to submit a purchase contract to the economy ministry, which has the power to block some takeovers by foreign players.

He declined to name the investor for confidentiality reasons.

A source close to the proceedings confirmed local media reports that the successful, and highest, offer came from NR Holding, which belongs to Russian billionaire Viktor Kharitonin. He already owns the Nuerburgring racing track.

No one was available at NR Holding to comment.

The U.S. Treasury Department included Kharitonin on a 2018 list of heads of Russian state-owned companies and so-called oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin and the prospect of the investment has raised concern from some German politicians.

Kharitonin has not been targeted by European Union sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The federal economy ministry can block takeovers of critical infrastructure by firms outside the European Union. Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday that his ministry had launched a routine screening of the process.

Insolvency administrator Jan Markus Plathner said at the weekend that creditors had received two possible purchase contracts.

"There are two contracts from two good investors, the political discussions are another matter," Plathner said on Tuesday. "The aim is to find a solution in the first quarter."

Insolvency proceedings for Hahn airport have been ongoing since October 2021. It had 1.23 million passengers between January and November last year, less than half the number a decade ago.

(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Sabine Wollrab and Mark Potter)


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