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These 11 Companies Visited St. Louis To Pitch Themselves As Lambert Airport's Next Operator

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
File photo / Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio obtained redacted copies of presentations made by 11 of the front-running companies bidding to lease Lambert aiport.

Last month, 11 companies vying to operate St. Louis Lambert International Airport flew in to interview with members of the working group considering leasing it.

St. Louis Public Radio obtained redacted copies of presentations made by representatives of those companies during the interviews. 

(Scroll for the full list below.)

They’re considered front-runners in the pack of 18 companies that responded to the city’s request for qualifications, but the Airport Advisory Working Group hasn’t named which of the companies officially will move forward.

One company in question

Members of the group delayed a vote Tuesday on which companies they want to submit detailed proposals on how they would manage and develop the airport. Discussions on the topic may continue on Monday, possibly resulting in a vote.

According to the minutes of a closed-door meeting on Nov. 27, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, six companies were not invited for interviews because they did not meet the basic criteria, and one dropped out.

The meeting minutes also reveal that a consultant to the working group recommended advancing eight companies to the next stage. 

But Linda Martinez, the mayor’s appointee to the group, pushed to include STL Aviation Group, which was left off the list. It notably includes Oaktree Capital Management, which is being advised by a former Francis Slay aide, Jeff Rainford.

According to the minutes, the group decided there is an appearance of a conflict of interest. It has not stated whether STL Aviation Group will move forward.

Martinez said excluding STL Aviation Group would “send a negative message to the community since they are familiar with the St. Louis area.”

The city working group said in a statement Wednesday it has “been made aware that minutes from a confidential closed session of the group have been leaked to the media.” 

It states the group is committed to a “fair and equitable process.”

“There continues to be a healthy debate among the City Working Group members about the optimal number of respondents to advance to the next stage of the process, but no decision has been made yet.”

In a statement released Thursday, STL Aviation Group — which also includes Vinci Airports and several local companies — did not mention the potential conflict. It described its priorities as developing the land around the airport and providing jobs.

More information released

The city working group released more information Tuesday about all 18 companies, including redacted versions of their submissions to the city during the RFQ phase. (City officials say some of that redacted information may be released if they determine it does not reveal trade secrets.)

The release of those documents and others are at the center of a lawsuit recently filed against the working group. It calls into question the group’s transparency and demands open meetings.

The presentations given to the working group provide more background information on the companies interested in operating Lambert and what they have to offer St. Louis. 

Since many groups involve multiple companies coming together on a bid, their presentations break down which parties have experience in airport management, infrastructure investing and construction, among other things.

The list includes major international airport management companies, airport transaction advisers and Canadian pension fund investors. 

These are the companies that presented their qualifications to the working group, as well as links to their presentations:

Follow Corinne on Twitter:@corinnesusan

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.