Comment: Sale of Scots airports would benefit Heathrow

There was some fevered speculation yesterday about Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial making an offer for Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, a move that is likely to be encouraged by their owner Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH).
Terry Murden. Picture: Ian GeorgesonTerry Murden. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Terry Murden. Picture: Ian Georgeson

In truth the situation has barely changed since our sister paper Scotland on Sunday revealed last November that the two airports, together with Southampton, were on the market and that minority shareholder Ferrovial was expected to buy out the other co-owners.

HAH, formerly BAA, wants to focus on its west London facility, more so since it is stepping up its bid for a third runway and the proceeds from selling its remaining regional bases would help pay for it.

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Heathrow pocketed £807 million in 2012 when it sold Edinburgh and raised a further £1.5 billion for Stansted.

Analysts last year put a price tag of at least £600m on Glasgow and the latest speculation is that Ferrovial has offered £800m for all three, though there was talk last year that the final price could be above £1bn.

Cala helping to build the bricks of recovery

THE renewed confidence in the housebuilding sector is as good a measure as any in the strength of the recovery.

On both counts it is arguably on the cautious rather than the bullish side, but an upward trend is evident. Cala Homes is the latest to add a positive message, confirming plans unveiled last year to substantially scale up the business as its two backers – Patron Capital and Legal & General – prepare to inject further investment.

Chief executive Alan Brown must be getting used to regular prompting to take the company back to the public markets but he and his co- owners are in no hurry to join a number of the firm’s rivals by seeking a listing.

For now he is concentrating on building the business by exploiting the massive landbank it has amassed. It has the potential to transform the company over three years, assuming the market does not suffer any further setbacks. The rate of housebuilding remains well below peak which is spurring prices. At some point more land needs to be released.

There are other dynamics at work in the sector that could shift the balance towards the rented sector. Life and pensions group Royal London has revealed that it is looking to invest in this area of the market in what would be a breakthrough in encouraging institutional funds.

Twitter: @TerryMurden1