Spanish government puts off Aena IPO until at least next year

The Aena float had been heavily trailed by the Spanish government (Source: Getty)

The heavily-trailed flotation of the world's largest airport operator has been postponed until at least the early part of next year, a source close to the deal has confirmed.

Spanish government-owned Aena, which owns 46 airports including Luton, Madrid Cuartro-Vientos and Barcelona-El Prat, had been due to list 49 per cent of its shares on November 12, which had been expected to raise $10bn for the company.

The decision is an embarrassing u-turn for the Spanish government, which had been using the listing as a bellwether for retail investors' confidence in the country's economic prospects, advertising the offer heavily on local TV and radio.

Although it has been reported that the delay is due to a "technical flaw", meaning a tender was not organised to find an auditor to sign off the "comfort letter" needed for the prospectus, it is thought shaky figures coming out of European economies and weakening enthusiasm for new listings have also contributed.

There are also reports of in-fighting among government ministers, particularly minister of development Ana Pastor, who is in favour of the deal, and the ministers of finance and economic affairs, Luis de Guindos and Cristóbal Montoro

Last week, the listing was put back when the filing of its prospectus was delayed, although Aenas said it expected the government to give it the go-ahead at some point today.

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