Brazil raises $620 mn in huge concession auction

Sao Paulo (AFP) –


Brazil wrapped up a massive auction Friday for concessions to operate 22 airports, a rail line and five ports with a total take of $620 million and planned investments of $1.75 billion in all.

The three-day auction was seen as a risky bet by some analysts, coming as Brazil reels from a new surge of Covid-19 that is weighing down Latin America's biggest economy.

But President Jair Bolsonaro's government mostly managed to attract strong bids, seeking to show Brazil remains an attractive destination for private investors.

Despite the pandemic, which has now claimed nearly 350,000 lives in Brazil, the government was keen to underline its committment to long-delayed plans for large-scale privatizations and concessions of state-run companies and infrastructure.

That was a key campaign promise in 2018 from Bolsonaro, who comes up for reelection next year.

"We're very happy because we've shown Brazil is a country with a bright future," said Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio de Freitas.

His ministry closed out the week with the 216-million-reais ($38-million) lease of five port terminals in the northeastern state of Maranhao and southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

On Wednesday, it raised a higher-than-expected $600 million for 30-year concessions to operate 22 small and medium airports -- the biggest day of the event it billed as "Infra Week."

French group Vinci and Brazilian group CCR were the winning bidders.

Thursday was the only lackluster day of the auction: the 35-year concession for the Fiol 1 freight rail line in the northeastern state of Bahia drew just one bidder, who won with a minimum bid of $5.75 million.

The government says it expects total investments of at least $1.75 billion over the lifetime of the projects.