MAG sees blue skies over Stansted as £1.5bn bid succeeds

A few centimetres of snow have again played havoc with Britain’s air transport, with Heathrow Airport cancelling 300 flights on Sunday (20 January). Birmingham Airport and Belfast City Airports were closed temporarily and London City Airport announced 40 flight cancellations.

Hundreds of passengers were reported stranded at Heathrow over the weekend and 10 per cent of flights are expected to be cancelled today (21 January).

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) can clearly see blue skies beyond the snowy horizon and announced, on Blue Monday, it has won its bid to buy Stansted airport, beating off competition from Australia’s Macquarie and Malaysia Airports for the Essex airport.

MAG paid £1.5bn, 15.9 times Stansted’s expected 2012 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £94.2m.

The group, which also owns East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, is expected to focus on turning around the fortunes of an airport which has seen passenger numbers fall to 17.5m and 131,400 flights a year.

MAG, which is owned by the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester, partly funded the deal by agreeing to sell a 35 per cent stake to Australian private equity group Industry Funds Management.

“The combined group that this acquisition creates will generate significant benefits for all stakeholders,” said MAG’s Chief Executive Charlie Cornish.

“The transaction represents a significant milestone in the achievement of our previously stated strategy of adding a quality airport to the group and delivering long-term value to our shareholders,” he added, claiming Stansted had scope to benefit from significant volume growth over the short, medium- and long-term.

Manchester City Council leader, Richard Leese, said: “MAG is a key driver of jobs and growth in the North of England and the acquisition of Stansted will help us deliver maximum value for Manchester City Council and the other local authority shareholders.”

Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly BAA, had been forced to sell Stansted on competition grounds. Chief Executive Colin Matthews said: “We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.”

The deal is expected to complete by the end of February.
 
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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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