Italian construction company Astaldi is in advanced talks with a Chinese Merchants Group-led consortium for the sale of 33 its percent stake in Istanbul's Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, sources with knowledge on the matter reportedly told Bloomberg. The report said that according to the sources the talks have gained pace in the recent weeks.
The third bridge was constructed in a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model and will be operated by the private sector until 2026. The $3-billion bridge was opened in August 2016. It is a critical part of the Northern Marmara Highway project. The bridge is 2,164 meters long and stretches 1,408 meters over the Bosporus. It has eight highway lanes and two railway lanes. Sources have also informed that Astaldi is looking to reach a deal by the end of the year.
Earlier last week the company had claimed that it shelved plans to sell its stake in the project due to geopolitical reasons.
Bloomberg, however, has quoted sources as saying that multiple Chinese companies were involved in talks to participate in the buyer consortium.
The sources added that the Chinese investor group could value the operations at around $1 billion. However, with no final decisions still being made, the state-owned China Merchants Group could still decide against an offer, the Bloomberg report by added.
The report further noted that the bridge's owners had wanted an equity value of as much as $1.4 billion when the Chinese consortium previously showed interest, sources said back in June. Astaldi's Turkish partner IC Yatırım Holding A.Ş. may also sell part of its stake, another source claimed.