Luton, Cardiff and Belfast airports up for sale

Sun, 24 Feb 2013 | DIVISION SALE

Luton Airport, Cardiff Airport and Belfast Airport have been put up for sale by Abertis, the Spanish infrastructure conglomerate.

The company has hired AZ Capital and Citigroup to explore options for its airports division that owns or part-owns 29 sites around the globe. Only 40 per cent of the company's €720m profits now come from Spanish operations, as its homeland is beset with recession and high unemployment. This has fuelled the company's drive to expand overseas with recent acquisitions of highway concessions in Chile and Brazil.

Pressure to book profits has been added to Abertis this month in the wake of the decision by Bolivian President Evo Morales to nationalise the country's airports, a significant stake of which was owned by the Spanish firm.

There is little doubt that Abertis Infrastructuras is keen to focus on those activities producing highest returns, in countries that are still on a growth curve. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is more infrastructure potential in developing countries than, for example, in Europe. Combined traffic numbers through Luton, Belfast and Cardiff airports rose less than 1 per cent in 2012 over the previous year – hardly a high growth market at present.

Nevertheless, airport assets that have been sold of late have attracted serious interest at serious prices, with Stansted and Edinburgh as prime examples. Chicago’s Midway airport is also back on the market with several suitors pitching bids.

Aviation operation in the South East for sale

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