Singaporean wealth fund joins £1bn airport talks

Sources close to the talks suggest that a deal could be announced early next week. Picture: Craig Stephen

Sources close to the talks suggest that a deal could be announced early next week. Picture: Craig Stephen

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THE Singaporean sovereign wealth fund is thought to be set to join Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial and Australian bank Macquarie in buying Aberdeen and Glasgow airports as part of a £1 billion deal.

Sources close to the talks suggest that a deal could be announced early next week which would see Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) sell the two Scottish airports along with its Southampton site.

Although Ferrovial and Macquarie have previously been linked to a deal for the airports, according to a report yesterday the Singapore sovereign fund GIC is also looking to take an equity stake as part of an agreement.

All parties declined to comment on the reports.

Ferrovial has a 25 per cent stake in HAH and is its largest shareholder alongside investors including Alinda Capital Partners, China Investment Corporation and the Universities Superannuation Scheme. GIC also holds a stake in the Spanish firm.

Ferrovial was reported to have made an £800 million offer for the three airports in February.

The sale of the three regional airports would leave HAH with just Heathrow, the UK’s busiest and the world’s third-busiest airport. Heathrow accounts for 95 per cent of HAH’s annual profit.

HAH would then be free to focus on its plan to gain government approval to build a third runway at Heathrow, an issue which has been at the centre of a long-running political tussle.

The three regional airports were put up for sale by HAH in August, when the group said it hoped to conclude a transaction by the end of 2014.

The sale of Aberdeen and Glasgow would mean all three of Scotland’s main airports will have changed hands in recent years after Edinburgh was sold in 2012 to Global Infrastructure Partners in an £807m deal.

That sale was forced by the Competition Commission, which ordered BAA to offload either Edinburgh or Glasgow over monopoly concerns.

BAA also sold Gatwick and Stansted airports as part of the commission’s investigation, leaving the renamed Heathrow Airport Holdings with four airports. Global Infrastructure Partners bought Gatwick in 2009 for £1.5bn and Stansted was sold for £1.5bn to the Manchester Airport Group.

Earlier this month Aberdeen and Glasgow airports announced year-on-year growth of 8.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.

Glasgow saw a total of 782,000 passengers pass through its terminals in August, its 19th consecutive month of reported year-on-year growth.

Aberdeen said it handled 339,656 passengers during the month with international passengers up by 18.1 per cent and helicopter passengers rising by 5.2 per cent.

For the year to date, passenger numbers at Aberdeen are up 8 per cent on last year, better than forecast.

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