Mexican Gov't Expects Major Windfall From Public Offering of Pacific Airport Group

TOLUCA, Mexico (AP) -- Mexico's Communications and Transportation Department said Thursday the government expects to earn more than US$600 million (euro500 million) from an initial public offering this year of its 85 percent stake in the Pacific airport group.

''This is going to be the biggest private airport group in the Americas,'' said Rodolfo Salgado, who heads the department's group in charge of privatizations and other projects.

Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico comprises 13 airports, including those that serve major cities like Tijuana and Guadalajara, and popular tourist destinations such as Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo.

Last year, 18 million passengers passed through the airports.

The concern's strategic partner and operator _ a mix of private Mexican investors and Spanish conglomerates _ will retain the 15 percent that the government sold when it partially-privatized the group in 1999.

Credit Suisse First Boston is the lead manager on the sale, Salgado said.

He said the government hopes to follow the offering in the Pacific group with a similar sale in 2006 of its stake in the north central group, anchored by Monterrey. The government hasn't decided which bank it will work with to handle that sale.

The public placement of the 85 percent stake in Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacific was initially planned for late 2001, but was postponed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States led to a slump in international air travel.

The government sold stakes in 34 of its 60 airports, divided into three regional packages: the Pacific group, the north central group, and the southeastern group anchored by Cancun.

The government sold 74 percent of the southeastern group, Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SA, in 2000, and sold its remaining 11 percent stake earlier this year.