By Duncan Brodie
Thursday, February 28, 2013
HEATHROW Airport Holdings today announced the completion of its sale of Stansted Airport to Manchester Airports Group for £1.5billion.
Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH), previously known as BAA, announced a provisional agreement with Manchester Airport Group (MAG) last month, following the deadline for the second round of bidding for Stansted.
The former BAA group fought a three-year battle against a Competition Commission ruling that it must sell Stansted before throwing in the towel last summer.
Confirmation that the deal with MAG had been completed came at lunchtime today in a one sentence statement from HAH.
MAG, which already includes Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, is a holding company owned by the 10 borough councils of Greater Manchester, making it the UK’s largest domestically-owned airport operator.
MAG said it had a detailed integration plan in place to ensure a “seamless transition of ownership and operations at Stansted which will maintain business as usual for passengers and customers”.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “We’re delighted to have added Stansted to our strong portfolio of UK airports.
“We aim to help fulfil its potential in the London market and bring more choice to its passengers in the years ahead. Today represents the achievement of a major strategic ambition for MAG and we look forward to working alongside staff, partners and stakeholders in ensuring the group’s success.”
The Competition Commission ruled in 2009 that BAA – which is owned by a consortium led by Spanish group Ferrovial – had to sell both Stansted and Gatwick due to concerns over a lack of competition between London’s three main airports, which, led by Heathrow, were all owned by the same company.
Gatwick Airport was sold in November the same year to Global Infrastructure Partners, owner of London City airport, for £1.5bn, but BAA contested the order to sell Stansted as well.
Stansted is the UK’s fourth busiest airport after losing its third place to Manchester. It is London’s base for low-cost airlines, with around 17.5m passengers and 131,400 flights passing through every year.
In all, 14 airlines operate from the Essex budget hub, serving more than 150 destinations in 32 countries, and it gives jobs to around 10,200 people in 200 businesses, including 1,316 directly employed by the airport.
As part of the deal announced today, Industry Funds Management (IFM) has taken a 35.5% equity interest in the enlarged MAG group.
Christian Seymour, head of infrastructure, Europe, at IFM, said: “We are hugely pleased to complete the acquisition of our stake in MAG and Stansted.
“It is a landmark acquisition for IFM, deepening our footprint in the UK, and is the culmination of 18 months’ work developing a strong, long term partnership with MAG. We look forward to bringing our significant international expertise in the airport sector to the benefit of the group.”