Press: Overseas firms may bid for Chicago airport

Chicago expects foreign bidders to dominate next year’s leasing of Midway International Airport, even with the U.S. political climate decrying foreign ownership of critical infrastructure, The Financial Times reported on its Web site Monday.
Chicago’s latest attempt to close its budget gap will be closely watched by other U.S. cities and states facing fiscal difficulties.

“We are seeing interest from more than the usual four or five (companies) - the British, Australian, Singaporean, Germans and the Spanish,” said Chicago’s chief financial officer, Dana Levenson. “But there are others starting to come out of the woodwork.” He said the city hoped to review initial proposals in September, according to the newspaper.

Levenson said he was aware of the reaction that could arise from selling the lease to a foreign bidder, given the controversy sparked by Dubai Ports World’s acquisition of a company that operates five U.S. container ports, the FT reported. He maintained that the DP World deal - which the Dubai-based company was forced to unwind - was a particular case rather than representative of the inward-investment climate in the U.S.

“We have the ultimate decision on who buys the airport,” Levenson said, according to the FT. “If none of the bidders out there are ones that the aldermen won’t oppose, then we won’t have a deal.”