Ferrovial revives plan to sell off BAA stake

City A.M. Reporter
Spanish group Ferrovial is pushing ahead with a plan to sell a ten per cent stake in British airport operator BAA, operator of London's Heathrow, a move aimed at halving its 24.5bn euro (£20.46bn) debt.

The company said it would seek offers for the stake, estimated last year to be worth about 200M euros, in the last week of January.

It said infrastructure funds, sovereign wealth funds, British and US pension funds had all shown an interest.

Ferrovial owns 55.9 per cent of BAA, the operator of airports including Heathrow and Stansted. By dropping its holding below 50 per cent, the Spanish company will no longer need to consolidate BAA debt on its balance sheet.

The stake may prove trickier to sell after BAA said this week it expects to take a hit of around £24m to account for the costs of last month's big freeze, which closed many of its runways and dented passenger numbers in the week before Christmas.

Ferrovial said it had not yet received any binding offers but expected to close the sale process in the first half of the year. The company sale plan dates back to October of last year when the company said it would go ahead some time in 2011.

In November Reuters reported that the company had hired bankers from Goldman Sachs and HSBC to sell the stake in Britain's largest airport operator.