Sydney Airport sale likely to resume after Ansett sale

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Australia’s Finance Ministry will resume attempts to sell Sydney Airports Corp, which operates Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport, in the next few months after Ansett’s future is settled.

Sale machinery will crank into gear in the next few weeks as advisor Salomon Smith Barney believes sentiment now supports a sale, reports local media.

Ministers will give the word to launch a bidding process once the Ansett sale is completed, a government source tells ATI. Ansett, the country's second national airline, collapsed in September but is in the process of being taken over by a group headed by two Melbourne businessmen.

Pressure is building upon the Australian Government to get the sale underway if it is to meet its self-imposed 30 June deadline. The Government halted the sale of the country's largest airport last September, blaming the terrorist attacks on the USA for destroying sentiment.

But doubts among bidders may have been building before the attacks.

Of the three consortia bidding then, the Connect Group that included ABN Amro, French group CDC and Australian banks, confirmed its airport partners Fraport and Schiphol Group had withdrawn.

The two other consortia were known as Sydney Gateway and Southern Cross. The former included AMP Henderson and Deutsche Bank, while the latter comprised Australian banks as well as German construction group Hochtief.

It is not clear if the consortia will re-bid or will change shape.