REAL ESTATE – Dutch institutional investors could be in the frame if proposals to part-privatise Amsterdam’s Schiphol come through.
With political agreement as remote as ever, the Dutch finance ministry has suggested a compromise combination of flotation and private placement of shares with institutions.
A finance ministry spokesperson said it had not identified investors but funds such as ABP, which is located at the airport’s business complex, would likely be in the frame. The scheme did not confirm its interest in acquiring shares.
The latest ‘combi-track’ compromise follows the rejection of two previous proposals for privatising 49% of the airport by parliament.
Evidently exasperated at the stalemate, finance minister Gerrit Zalm has indicated that he would be prepared to push privatisation through by fiat and inform parliament afterwards.
William Lelieveldt, a ministry spokesman said: “Solely based on the law, he can sell what he likes – up to 49%. We will do as much as possible to find the broadest possible support in parliament, but this discussion has been going on for 10 years.”
Representatives of employees who will be directly affected by the likely outcome showed every indication of being past caring.
FNV Bondgenoten, the general workers’ trade union that represents much of the airport’s workforce, opposed the privatisation. But its Schiphol representative, Jan van der Brink, said: "It might take a while but, I think, yes, Schiphol will be privatised. One party wants flotation. Another wants private placement. It isn’t clear exactly how it will end up but in my opinion it won’t make much difference.”
The union has already reached agreement with the government that employees will retain existing terms and conditions, including pension rights, when they transfer to the private sector.