BAA sells Gatwick airport at a loss

Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:00pm BST
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By Ben Deighton and Greg Roumeliotis

LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Spain's Grupo Ferrovial, under pressure to reduce its dominance in UK airports, has agreed to sell London's Gatwick for a smaller-than-expected 1.51 billion pounds to a consortium involving Credit Suisse and General Electric.

Ferrovial said on Wednesday that it expected to make a capital loss of around 142 million euros ($212.6 million) against its consolidated earnings following the sale by airport operator BAA, majority owned by the Spanish group.

It comes three years after it paid 10.1 billion pounds for BAA, which operates seven UK airports as well as international operations.

Buying Gatwick, London's second-busiest airport, is Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a consortium which already owns London City Airport.

Ferrovial put Gatwick up for sale last year after UK authorities said the company should reduce its UK airport portfolio, though BAA is currently appealing a Competition Commission ruling ordering it to sell Gatwick and two other airports, alleging that the decision was biased.

BAA's lawyer Nicholas Green opened his final remarks on the third day of the appeals tribunal on Wednesday by pointing to Gatwick's sale and arguing that it demonstrates that the airport operator has already made an important concession.

"The sale price was lower than the regulated asset base (RAB), a sale would be expected to be at a premium to RAB, it is not here," he said.

BAA anounced a sale price lower than the airport's 1.57 billion pound RAB value but higher than offers BAA received from bidders before the summer.  Continued...

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