Sofia Airport Terminal 2 Bulgaria
(Sofia International Airport Terminal 2 Bulgaria)

EBRD invests €74.3 million in Sofia Airport operating company


London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced on Tuesday (August 4) its support for the development of Sofia International Airport in Bulgaria, by making an indirect equity investment of 74.3 million euros ($88.33 million) in SOF Connect – the company operating and managing the facility.

The bank’s investment consists of 58 million euros equity investment and a further 16.3 million euros contingent equity exposure. The equity investment follows a 50 million euros loan to SOF Connect earlier this year to help it modernise the Balkan country’s main air transport hub. SOF Connect is a joint venture between Paris-based asset manager Meridiam, specialising in public-private-partnership projects, Munich Airport and Austrian construction company Strabag.

The consortium took over the 35-year Sofia Airport concession in April, after the previous government agreed to defer its annual fee payments for 10 years.

The consortium has pledged to invest at least 624 million euros throughout the duration of the concession, including building a new, third passenger Terminal over the next 10 years and making environmental, health and safety upgrades. As part of the concession agreement, the operator has also committed to improving corporate climate governance. The airport will target climate neutrality by 2036.

“This is a landmark investment for us. We are delighted to support the development of Sofia airport as a key infrastructure asset for Bulgaria. Together with our partners, we view this as a market-based solution, with a view to achieving sustainable development” Anca Ioana Ionescu, EBRD Director for Bulgaria, said.

Sofia International Airport is among the busiest airports in the Balkans and one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe, with passenger numbers reaching 7.1 million in 2019. Last year, the airport serviced only 3 million passengers due to Covid-19 related restrictions which hit air travel worldwide.

The Bulgarian airport belongs to the core Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) a Europe-wide network of land, water and air corridors and is Bulgaria’s main international airport and a focal point for economic development.

Last month, Sofia Airport received 40 million euros from the European Investment Bank
for the modernisation of the security and making the terminals environmentally friendly, and an additional 73 million euros from the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank.

The EBRD is a major investor in Bulgaria, where it focuses on making local firms more competitive at home and abroad, financing modern, sustainable infrastructure and developing financial products and capital markets. To date, the EBRD has invested €4 billion in Bulgaria’s economy through 267 projects.

The London-based bank which was established to help build a new, post-Cold War era in Central and Eastern Europe has invested almost €150 billion in a total of more than 6,000 projects in the region and beyond.

In June, the bank became the largest foreign investor in Moldova assuming the sole ownership of Giurgiulesti Port, the country’s only sea-river port located on the river Danube, near the border with Ukraine.