“Clear and important signal”: EU Commission clears the way to increase the level of BER financing19.12.2012
Important fundamental decision from Brussels: the EU Commission today paved the way for an increase in the level of financing for BER. The door is now open for the three shareholders Berlin, Brandenburg and the Federal Republic of Germany to provide a total of €1.2bn to the airport company in 2013 and 2014 for the completion of the airport, the realisation of the noise protection programme and the provisions to cover future risks. €900 million will be paid out in 2013 (the first payment of €325m in January) and the balance of €300 million in 2014. The EU Commission expressly classified the capital increase as not being a state aid and consequently compatible with the rules of the European single market. The Commission noted further that a private investor, faced with a similar situation, would also have decided to conduct a capital increase of this nature.
“Today’s decision from Brussels is a clear and important signal for the airport,” stated Dr Rainer Schwarz, airport CEO. “The liquidity of the airport company has now been assured. Simultaneously, the EU Commission verified the economic efficiency of the most important project for the future of the German capital region. This will be true even if pessimistic business forecasts prove to be accurate, as a number of stress tests have shown. The unambiguous decision from Brussels is an important confirmation of our work.”
In the course of its investigation, the EU Commission had to determine whether a private investor, faced with similar circumstances, would have chosen to follow the same path as the state, i.e. to provide an additional €1.2bn in capital to the airport company. The conclusion is definite: even if the worst-case scenario of slow passenger development and turbulence on the airline market is assumed, the Commission concluded that a private investor would also have made the funds available to the airport company because in the middle and long term BER will be a profitable capital investment. “We will remain on a course of growth and will in this year exceed the mark of 25 million passengers for the first time,” Schwarz continued. “But of course we also considered the possibility of an economic slowdown in preparing our reliable financial planning.”
The EU Commission based its decision on the healthy financial foundation of the airport company. Passenger growth at Schönefeld and Tegel Airports in the years between 2007 and 2011 amounted to 4.7% and was significantly higher than the average of 2% on the German market. The core business has been profitable without exception; the average EBITDA ratio during this period amounted to 33%. As has been reported on several occasions, the airport company has generated more than half a million euros for the construction of BER Airport from its own cash flow in past years. In addition, noted the Commission, the construction of the airport is 95% complete. At the same time, the Commission concluded that the additional costs resulting from planning errors and the new requirements for noise protection were not foreseeable.