Lagardère Travel Retail about Airport tender contest and intention to invest in Moldova

Lagardère Travel Retail didn’t participate in the working out of specifications for the Airport tender contest and doesn’t believe that parameters that would favor the company were included in these because the requirements indicated there are common for their industry, Baptiste Duguit, Vice-President for Business Development at Lagardère Travel Retail, said in reaction to public reports about the favoring of the company through the conditions of the specifications.

In a press conference staged by IPN, Baptiste Duguit explained that they were first contacted from Moldova in 2019, by Moldovan companies DFM and Aerofood, which wanted to sell their businesses based at the Airport. At that time, they met with the responsible persons to consider the possibilities of this investment. They contacted the Embassy of France in Moldova, the local Chamber of Commerce, which explained the local realities and the conflict between Avia Invest, which managed the Airport, and the Moldovan authorities. They saw that DFM and Aerofood paid practically no taxes or the taxes were very low and, respectively, they generated virtually no income for the airport, which is not normal in the practice of the company he represents. They decided then not to continue the negotiations with Avia Invest.

In December 2022, President Maia Sand, who was in Paris at a meeting with French investors, encouraged the company to closely follow the situation around the Airport, estimating that it could be an opportunity for business development the coming years. Baptiste Duguit noted that they were “seduced” by Moldova’s openness and the authorities’ interest in a potential investor like them. In 2023, when the necessary conditions were met, they returned to show their interest in working at the Airport.

The company’s representative said that in the course of 2023, he had a number of meetings with the minister of economic development, the director of the Public Property Agency, the director of the Airport, but he never met with Andrei Spînu (Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development). Such discussions with the authorities, airport managers are something normal. This way the company can know the real situation, the possible developments and can structure its offer for that country. Some of the projects are carried out through direct negotiations with the authorities, while others go through tender contests. The authorities indicated that in the case of Moldova, it will be a tender contest and they prepared for this contest that was supposed to take place last week.

Baptiste Duguit said that this tender contest is something ordinary in the company’s work. The short-term contract, for three years, is a thorny element for them. Usually, their contracts are for seven-ten years. Before the tender contest, the company opens a no-activity enterprise so that, if it wins the contest, it can form the teams and respond quickly to the made requests. In this case too, in order to open this representative office in Moldova, he used the services of a lawyer with a good reputation and opened a company with a temporary head office. If they start work in Moldova, they will change the head office.

This week the company learned that the tender contest had been cancelled and another contest is to be launched. The company’s representative said that they were surprised and disappointed because the process was transparent and clear, but they will follow the new conditions that will be announced by the authorities and decide whether to participate in the contest or not.

Baptiste Duguit noted that in the retail activity at the Chisinau Airport, they plan to invest €3-4 million. The retail activity should also generate revenues for the authorities, which should be invested in the Airport’s infrastructure. The conditions proposed in the tender specifications allow the authorities to have much higher revenues from retail activity than they have had so far.

Baptiste Duguit also said that they hadn’t had discussions with the authorities about the reintroduction of the duty-free regime (which was canceled). The business plan is based on the duty-paid regime at the Airport. For the benefits of passengers and the Airport, they could request the reintroduction of the duty-free regime. But now it is not a condition. If the company doesn’t win the tender contest in Moldova, the enterprise opened here will be closed.

Note: IPN News Agency offers the right of reply to persons who consider they were touched by the news items produced based on statements made by the organizers of the given news conference, including by facilitating the organization of another news conference in similar conditions.

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