Poland names €1.8 billion international investors in “mega-airport” project

A consortium of France’s Vinci Airports and Australia-based IFM Global Infrastructure Fund has been chosen as the investment partner in the planned “mega-airport” and transport hub being developed in central Poland. They will contribute up to 8 billion zloty (€1.79 billion) in exchange for a minority stake.

The Solidarity Transport Hub (CPK) has been a flagship programme of the current Law and Justice (PiS) government. However, a new opposition coalition that is due to come to power after the 15 October elections has expressed scepticism about the idea and pledged to audit its financing.

Vinci z Francji 🇫🇷 i IFM z Australii 🇦🇺

Spółka CPK ✈️ wybrała strategicznego inwestora lotniska!

Objęcie do 4⃣9⃣ % udziałów będzie oznaczało przyciągnięcie do 🇵🇱 ok. 8⃣ mld zł bezpośredniej inwestycji (min. 51% zachowa Skarb Państwa).

Więcej tutaj: https://t.co/qtuq1nx7eO pic.twitter.com/xY4szgEowb

— Centralny Port Komunikacyjny (@CPK_PL) October 24, 2023

The total cost of the CPK project is expected to reach 36.2 billion zloty (€8.1 billion), with 60% of that covered by debt financing (bonds and loans) and the remaining 40% from investors. The Polish state will retain a majority stake.

Vinci Airports already manages over 70 airports in 13 countries. IFM Global Infrastructure Fund has around $143 billion in assets under management, of which approximately $64 billion is in infrastructure equity investments. It has stakes in 17 airports worldwide in its portfolio.

Their consortium is expected to bring not only capital but also expertise to the CPK project.

“The entry of such large and recognised entities as Vinci and IFM is the best proof that CPK is a well-thought-out and numbers-based project,” said Marcin Horała, the government official overseeing CPK. “It will not only drive the Polish economy but guarantee a high rate of return on investment.”

Obiecana dobra wiadomość 👍: mamy inwestora, który chce wyłożyć do 8 miliardów złotych na budowę CPK w zamian za objęcie mniejszościowych udziałów w spółce operującej lotniskiem! To konsorcjum Vinci Airports i IFM Global Infrastructure Fund. (szczegóły w nitce).

— Marcin Horała (@mhorala) October 24, 2023

In July this year, the state company developing CPK unveiled a design concept for what the complex will look like, prepared by the firm of world-renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster. It has also been acquiring land for the investment. The aim is for the airport and transport hub to open in 2028.

However, an imminent change in government has raised some doubts about the future of the project. While PiS emerged as the largest party from this month’s elections, it has lost its parliamentary majority and all other parties have ruled out forming a coalition with it.

That makes it almost certain that a coalition of opposition groups will take power by the end of this year. One of them, the centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) alliance, has previously pledged to scrap CPK entirely. It argues the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Design concepts for Poland’s planned new mega-airport, prepared by the firm of renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, have been unveiled.

The transport hub, located halfway between Warsaw and Łódź, is forecast to serve 65 million passengers a year by 2060https://t.co/elj2fvhb6Q

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) July 6, 2023

Meanwhile, the main opposition group, Civic Coalition (KO), pledged ahead of the elections to review the CPK project once it came to power. Yesterday, one of its leading figures, Marcin Kierwiński, called for the project to be suspended until “the enormous money that has been wasted is accounted for”.

After the announcement today of Vinci and IFM as partners in the project, another KO figure, Michał Szczerba, criticised the “outgoing government for trying to bind in the project with contracts and long-term obligations in a non-transparent procedure. They have no right to do so”.

“Voters gave the democratic majority the right to urgently audit the CPK project,” Szczerba added.

W środę o 9.00 z @Dariusz_Jonski kontynuujemy kontrolę poselską w CPK. Wyborcy dali prawo demokratycznej większości do pilnego audytu projektu CPK, ochrony lotniska Okęcie i zatrzymania wyprzedaży 460 ha gruntów, które tuż przed wyborami wniesiono do grupy CPK. Przepisy nie… pic.twitter.com/Igcqz7F3xA

— Michał Szczerba (@MichalSzczerba) October 24, 2023

Horala, however, today defended the project, pointing to a recent “EY report showing that simply shifting air cargo services from German airports to CPK will yield 200 billion zloty more in the Polish budget over 30 years from customs duties and VAT”.

“CPK is good business in itself – hence the interest of the world’s leading infrastructure companies,” wrote Horala. “But first and foremost, it is the realisation of Poland’s strategic interests, not just its economic interests.”

The government envisions the airport becoming a major global hub, initially serving up to 40 million passengers annually before expanding to serve at least 65 million passengers a year by 2060.

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: CPK (press materials)

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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