LDEASA AND THE
“Seldom in the history of the European Union has so much money and time been spent by such a
wide coalition of interests on trying to reverse a Council decision. I can understand that lobbying
budgets increase exponentially with the difficulty of the objective sought, and that duty-free lobbying
budgets are enormous…” Mario Monti, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, September 1997.
In June 1997 SEPPa (Sociedad Española de Participaciones Patrimoniales), a government
agency which owned 80% of Aldeasa, announced the structure of the privatization process.
bacalera, a company in which SEPPa also owned a 52% stake, acquired AENA’s 20% stake and
then fully subscribed a capital increase, raising its stake to 30%.
Tabacalera held a monopoly on
the distribution of cigarettes in Spain.
The two companies would develop innovative market ini-
tiatives to further enhance Aldeasa’s airport retailing business, both duty free and duty paid.
bacalera also had important logistical operations that could benefit Aldeasa.
The remaining 70%
of Aldeasa’s capital were sold to domestic and foreign institutional investors through an IPO in
September of 1997.
Aldeasa made its debut on the stock market on September 29, at €19.89.
expected, the impact of the abolition on the company’s operations was a major issue raised by
To address the issue, Aldeasa developed and implemented an integrated market and
Aldeasa Goes to Brussels
In the EU arena Aldeasa pursued a coordinated non-market strategy with the rest of the duty
The small number of players, the absence of head-to-head competition (as retailers
operated in under exclusive concessions in different airports) and the pre-existing relationships
through some related organizations such as the Tax Free World Association favored the forma-
tion of a broad coalition.
In 1995, the two main industry associations came together to jointly
fight the abolition of intra-EU duty free sales: the French AFCOHT (Association Française du
Commerce Hors Taxes - luxury articles) and the Anglo-Saxon IDFC (International Duty Free
Confederation - spirits and cigarettes).
Together with duty free operators they sponsored the
creation of the European Travel Research Foundation (ETRF), to gather data on the impact of
ETRF’s membership included retailers, airport authorities, carriers, suppliers and trade asso-
Its first objective was to create an accurate database for the EU market, establishing its
value and identifying the proportion of duty free sales made to intra-EU travelers.
January and July 1997 the ETRF ordered 35 in-depth research studies from “independent” con-
sultants, in order to assess the impact of the abolition of intra-EU duty free in such sectors as air
and sea transport, tourism, producer industries, employment and public finances.
A summary of
the studies is shown in Exhibit 1, and served as a basis for the coalition’s informational strategy.
The coalition hired an impressive group of top EU lobbyists in Brussels (including two ex-