Changi Airports International shortlisted to run Japan's New Kansai airport

TOKYO - New Kansai International Airport Co said on Friday it shortlisted 20 bidders for a multi-billion-dollar concession to run Japan's fifth-busiest passenger airport for 44 years.

They include Australia's Macquarie Group's Macquarie Capital Group, Singapore's Changi Airports International, and Global Infrastructure Management, which operates London's Gatwick Airport, it said.

The license for Kansai will be bundled with operating rights for the smaller Osaka International Airport nearby.

It should fetch at least 2 trillion yen (US$16.6 billion), New Kansai International officials said in July.

The company will use the proceeds to repay 1.2 trillion yen of debt to the state.

The auction is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans to boost private-sector investment in Japan's infrastructure as the nation tries to reduce its debt.

Japanese financial services provider Orix Corp and property developer Mitsubishi Estate were also shortlisted.

The winner, which is expected to form a consortium, should be known in around June after a second round of bidding.

Japan is also selling the operating rights for Sendai Airport in northern Japan, the nation's 10th largest.

Bidders for that auction include a consortium of Mitsubishi Estate and ANA Holdings, Japan's largest carrier.