Slim joins forces with Spanish firms to bid on Mexico airport terminal

By Elliot Bullman

Tycoon Carlos Slim's construction arm is in talks with his majority-owned construction firm FCC and rival Spanish builder Acciona to jointly bid on a coveted $3.5 billion (2.87 billion pounds) Mexico City airport terminal project.

Carso Infraestructura y Construccion, part of Slim's Grupo Carso, is hashing out a deal to form the consortium, which would include three other Mexican companies.

slim1Original image: “Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México “Benito Juárez”” by Presidencia de la República Mexicana, under license CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

The bid for the terminal, hot on the heels of Carso's runway bid, shows how Slim is aggressively moving to boost his construction business while his telecoms arm America Movil is squeezed by increased competition and regulation.

The futuristic airport building was designed by Slim's son-in-law Fernando Romero and British architect Norman Foster.

It would anchor a $13 billion airport aimed at turning Mexico City into a regional hub, expected to serve 68 million passengers a year when it begins operating in 2020.

slim3Original image: “JM_Carlos Slim (1)” by Josue Morales, under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr

An Acciona spokesman said the Spanish builder was analyzing the operation, adding that the bidding consortiums were still being formed.

In June, Spanish regulators approved Slim's takeover of FCC, which has been dealing with high debts following a 2008 property market crash that sent thousands of the country's developers to the wall and brought the firm close to bankruptcy.

slim2Original image: “Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México “Benito Juárez”” by Presidencia de la República Mexicana, under license CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Clinching the project is far from certain. It is also believed that Mexican builder ICA is in final talks to bid with Spanish firms Ferrovial, Dragados, a unit of Spain's Grupo ACS and GP Construccion, to build the terminal. Ferrovial is well placed to make the winning bid after clinching a 2010 contract to build a terminal at London's Heathrow Airport for around 800 million pounds.

The bidding groups remain in flux, with two sources saying ICA could join the Carso-led consortium in a decision that could be reached by next week.

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