Wellington group bids on London airport

SOPHIE SASSARD AND ANJULI DAVIES
Last updated 14:46 30/10/2012

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Wellington investment manager Morrison & Co, which manages Infratil, has entered the race for Britain's Stansted airport, people familiar with the situation said.

The airport has been put on the block by Ferrovial, the operator of Europe's biggest airport Heathrow.

Other bidders include Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which is in a partnership with Australia's Industry Funds Management (IFM), Macquarie's infrastructure fund and private-equity firm TPG, the people said.

Morrison is putting together a consortium including New Zealand investment company Infratil, which owns Glasgow Prestwick airport, and New Zealand Superannuation Fund, one of the people said.

Ferrovial is expected to close a deal in the first quarter of 2013, because bidders would need time to study Stansted's accounts and fund a deal estimated about NZ$2 billion, the people said.

MAG is seen as the frontrunner given its sector expertise and financial firepower due to its partnership with IFM, which took a 35 per cent stake the operator earlier this year.

''The problem [for Ferrovial] will be to have a solid second bidder to compete with MAG,'' said a financial source familiar with the sector but not involved in the deal.

Stansted, a predominantly leisure and holiday airport 50 kilometres north-east of London, flew 17.4 million passengers last year.

It was put up for sale in August after Ferrovial was forced by Britain's competition regulator to sell off assets and loosen its grip on the British market.

MAG and IFM hired JP Morgan and Gleacher Shacklock to advise on a bid while TPG is working with UBS, the people said. ING and Deutsche Bank are advising BAA.

Heathrow, MAG, Morrison, Macquarie and TPG declined to comment.

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- Reuters

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