French airport operator VINCI has reportedly been shortlisted to acquire a majority stake of Australia’s Hobart International Airport (HIA).

The French firm submitted an indicative bid for HIA this July. It is one of the few parties shortlisted for the auction’s second and final stage, reported The Australian Financial Review.

Located in Cambridge, 17km northeast of Hobart, HIA is a major passenger airport in Tasmania. It is being managed by Tasmanian Gateway Consortium under a 99-year lease.

VINCI has contacted investment bank Rothschild to support its acquisition bid, which includes carrying out due diligence and resolving issues such as potential regulatory impediments.

Meanwhile, other firms, including QIC, UniSuper and a joint bid by industry funds CBUS and HESTA, are competing to acquire 50.1% of HIA.

The stake is owned by a Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets managed investment fund and is valued up to A$500m ($338m).

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Macquarie has hired Credit Suisse to manage the auction for the stake and received indicative offers late last month.

The timeline for submitting binding and unconditional bids is late September, with a signed deal expected soon after.

Tasmanian investment fund Tasplan holds the remaining 49.9% of HIA and is also exploring its options.

VINCI manages 45 airports in 12 countries and is looking to gain a strong foothold in the Australian aviation market through the deal.

This April, HIA unveiled an A$200m ($143m) investment plan.  The plan is part of its Terminal Expansion Project (TXP), designed to boost the airport’s capacity.

The TXP will double the size of the airport and is likely to be finished in three phases.

HIA will invest almost A$100m ($71.48m) during the initial phase, which includes the expansion of the existing departure lounge and facilities, along with international processing capacity.

The first phase of the expansion work is scheduled to be completed by December next year.

The remaining two stages will be completed by 2030.

These stages will entail a further investment of A$100m ($71.48m) and focus on improving baggage processing facilities, as well as enhancing retail, food and beverage space.