Ferrovial cuts stake in BAA to lower debt

City A.M. Reporter
SPANISH infrastructure firm Ferrovial has cut its stake in UK airport operator BAA to just below 50 per cent after selling a six per cent share, removing BAA’s debts from its balance sheet.

Ferrovial said yesterday that it had agreed to sell 5.88 per cent of its BAA investment vehicle, FGP Topco, to US infrastructure investment group Alinda Capital Partners for €325m (£283.7m), valuing BAA at €5.52bn.

“It’s been a good sale at a great price but we don’t plan to sell any more [of BAA] at the moment,” a spokesman for Ferrovial said.

The sale means Ferrovial’s stake in BAA will drop to 49.99 per cent from 55.87 per cent, the Spanish company said, allowing it to deconsolidate BAA’s debt from its balance sheet.

Following the sale, expected to close by the end of this month, Ferrovial’s accounts will show about €5.19bn of debt against the current €19.75bn, the spokesman said.

“This deal should be positive for the share price as it unlocks hidden value, gives Ferrovial greater flexibility and may make it easier to capture other investment opportunities,” said Societe Generale analyst Victor Acitores.

Ferrovial has been considering selling a stake of up to 10 per cent in BAA for around a year. It put the stake up for sale last October in a move to trim its debt.

BAA owns London Heathrow -- Europe’s busiest airport -- as well as Southampton and Stansted in England and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland.

The Competition Commission (CC) last week told BAA that it must sell one of its Scottish airports before it disposes of London Stansted airport.

The CC’s decision followed a two-year battle between BAA and the CC after the CC ruled in 2009 that BAA exerted a dominant hold on British airports and told it to sell Gatwick and Stansted airports and one of its Scottish airports.

BAA last month said it would seek a judicial review of the UK competition watchdog’s ruling requiring it to sell off Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport in Scotland.