Schiphol privatisation edges towards take off

5th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

5 March 2004, AMSTERDAM — The long talked about privatisation of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport received a boost Friday as Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm said the Dutch government was in favour of the move.

5 March 2004

AMSTERDAM — The long talked about privatisation of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport received a boost Friday as Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm said the Dutch government was in favour of the move.

Speaking to newspaper Trouw, Zalm said that while MPs had voiced concerns about the State relinquishing control over the airport, he had heard no such objections within Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's coalition cabinet.

He described the privatisation of Schiphol as a "logical step".

Zalm said that he considered agreements made about the move in Balkenende's first short-lived government were still valid. "We have also reaffirmed the commitment on paper," he said.

The government holds 75.8 percent of the shares in Schiphol, with the remainder owned by Amsterdam (21.8 percent) and Rotterdam (2.4 percent).

During the 1990s, the Netherlands sold off several key state-owned enterprises and the plan was to float initially 49 percent of the airport's existing shares on the stock exchange.

But support for privatisation receded, particularly among leftwing parties, due to the worsening economic climate and fears of losing control of a vital component of the country's infrastructure.

Schiphol's boss Gerlach Cerfontaine called two weeks ago for a decision to be taken on privatisation by the end of March to allow the airport shares to be listed on the stock exchange. It is expected that the privatisation process would take seven years to complete.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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