Stansted deal prompts MAG downgrade

Marion Dakers
MANCHESTER Airports Group’s purchase of Stansted Airport is on track to close by the end of the month, but the firm was hit by a debt rating downgrade from Standard & Poor’s yesterday.

S&P lowered its rating on MAG from A to BBB, repeating its concerns that the £1.5bn purchase will push the group’s debt pile to £900m, weakening its financial risk profile from “modest” to “significant”.

The agency said it was also withdrawing its rating on MAG at the firm’s request. The company declined to comment on why it asked S&P to end its debt coverage.

MAG and its new partner Industry Funds Management have not yet made public the debt structure of last month’s deal, but it has been reported that the firm has agreed a £1.2bn club loan from 13 banks and is mulling a bond auction within the next 18 months.

As part of the deal, set to close before 28 February, IFM is buying 35.5 per cent of the enlarged group.