Basic Element (BasEl) holding company owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska may become the largest airport operator in Russia after it began talks to buy five regional airports, Vedomosti business daily said on Tuesday quoting BasEl General Director Andrei Yelinson as saying.
A joint venture of BasEl, Russia's top bank Sberbank and Changi Airports Group, a manager of Singapore's Changi Airport, is in talks with the owners of airports in Russia's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad, in Ufa in the Volga region, Perm in West Siberia, as well as Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk in East Siberia, which facilitates 11 percent of the overall passenger flow in Russia.
A source in the joint venture told Vedomosti five airports may cost about $2 billion.
Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency and the Transport Ministry declined to comment on the information.
Yelinson told the paper that the current structure of passenger flow in Russia was inefficient as the bulk of it is concentrated in the Moscow aviation hub so regional airports should be developed to change the system.
BasEl owns airports in Sochi, Krasnodar, Gelendzhik and Anapa in south Russia now and includes its air assets in the joint venture founded last October to get a 50 percent plus one share in it. Sberbank has 20 percent minus one share, while Changi's stake equals 30 percent.
Changi plans to invest nearly $200 million in the venture, while Sberbank will invest $120 million but plans to sell its stake in the future.