Astaldi to sell Bosphorus bridge stake 2 years after opening

Italian firm Astaldi is poised to sell its stake in a flagship bridge project spanning Istanbul's Bosphorus less than two years after it became operational.

Astaldi will get a binding offer for the stake in the toll bridge, the third to link the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, by the end of June, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. A venture between Turkish investment group Global Yatirim Holding AS, London-based fund Centricus Asset Management and a Chinese investor is completing due diligence ahead of an offer, it said.

The Italian firm’s 33 percent stake has been valued by the potential buyer at as much as $467 million, Bloomberg reporters including Ercan Ersoy said. Astaldi has been trying to sell the asset for months as it looks to launch a share sale later this year. Traffic across the bridge, promoted as a symbol of Turkey's development and economic growth record by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has failed to meet projections, requiring Ankara to boost operators' revenue from Treasury coffers, Hurriyet newspaper reported last July.

IC Yatirim Holding, a Turkish builder and energy company, owns the remaining stake in the bridge. The agreement could result in the sale of 100 percent of the asset, one person said, according to Bloomberg.

The bridge, named Yavuz Sultan Selim, is more than two kilometres long and was opened in August 2016. It is one of the tallest suspension bridges in the world with a height of 322 metres. It is located north of two other bridges near the opening of the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.

Yavuz Sultan Selim is part of the projected 260 km (160 mile) Northern Marmara Motorway, which will bypass urban areas of Istanbul in the north and connect to a new airport, which the government says will become the world’s largest by passenger numbers.