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Manchester Airports proposes to build stadium as part of bid for Sofia airport concession

SOFIA (Reuters) - Britain's largest airport operator, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said it has proposed building a 600-million-euro ($670 million) stadium as part of its bid for a 35-year concession to operate Sofia Airport, Bulgaria's biggest hub.

MAG is bidding in the tender in a tie-up with Chinese construction firm BCEG. It said in a statement on Wednesday that a multifunctional arena would boost Bulgaria's chances of staging the 2024 Youth Winter Olympics as the country prepares a bid to host the Games.

MAG also said that the national stadium could increase the Balkans' chances of hosting the 2030 soccer World Cup. Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania have already announced a joint bid to host the tournament.

Five airport operators and investors from Britain, Germany, France and Denmark bid in the Sofia Airport tender and a consortium led by France's Aeroports de Paris (ADP) offered the highest concession fee two weeks ago.

Bulgaria is looking to secure 550 million euros for the 35-year concession - including fees of 7.7 million euros a year, plus a 280 million euro upfront payment.

It has also asked for an investment of 600 million euros to cover the building of a third passenger terminal among other things.

MAG has already offered to invest 1.29 billion euros if it wins the concession, including an annual concession fee of 20 million euros a year. The 600 million euro stadium would be an additional investment on top of that.

ADP, which has teamed up on the bid with Turkey's TAV Airports, has offered to invest 903 million euros in the airport over the duration of the contract, in addition to its annual concession fee.

The other three bidders are Germany's Fraport, which operates Frankfurt airport; a consortium comprising asset manager Meridiam and the operator of Munich Airport; and a tie-up between Copenhagen Airports and SSB Sauernwein & Schaefer.

Bulgaria's transport ministry plans to pick a winner next month at the earliest and will assess both the offered fees and the business development plans for the airport.

MAG operates Manchester, East Midlands and London's Stansted airports. It is owned by Australian pension fund IFM Investors and a group of regional councils around Manchester.

"We are happy to be able to make this offer to the residents of Sofia as part of our bid for Sofia Airport," Graeme Ferguson, corporate development director for MAG, said in a statement about the stadium proposal.


(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Susan Fenton)