Ferrovial to kick off sale of BAA stake this week

SPANISH builder Ferrovial plans to begin the sale of a tenth of airport operator BAA this week to cut its €24.5bn (£20.8bn) debt.

The group is understood to have hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and HSBC to sell a 10 per cent stake in BAA, which owns London’s Heathrow and Stansted airports as well as Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.

Ferrovial owns 55.9 per cent of the parent of BAA, in which Britannia Airport Partners, managed by Canada’s Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, owns 26.5 per cent and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC holds 17.6 per cent.

It unveiled the sale plan in October and expects to complete it in 2011.

Analysts estimate the stake could fetch up to €200m, which Ferrovial is likely to use to finance new infrastructure projects.

Ferrovial would be able to more than halve its debt by removing BAA’s debt from its own balance sheet.

BAA sold Gatwick airport to the owner of London City airport, Global Infrastructure Partners, for £1.5bn faced with watchdog concern over its dominance of UK airports.
Last month, an appeal court overturned BAA’s successful challenge of the Competition Commission’s order in March 2009 for it to sell Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

BAA and Ferrovial declined to comment. The financial crisis hit Ferrovial hard and forced it to sell assets after it headed up a consortium to buy BAA at a time when funding for such acquisitions was relatively inexpensive.