Vinci buys controlling share of Gatwick Airport for £2.9bn

Karl du Fresne

Karl du Fresne"I've become an abject pessimist when it comes to travel. Things go wrong so often that I've come to expect

Vinci SA agreed to acquire control of Gatwick Airport for 2.9 billion pounds ($3.7 billion) as the French construction company jumped on the chance to add a major London hub to its aviation portfolio.

It handles over 46 million passengers per year, more than a quarter of the 170 million passenger journeys the London airports system - led by Heathrow - handled in 2017.

"Their focus, along with everyone at Gatwick, obviously remains on doing their very best for customers over the busy holiday period after the challenges of recent days".

The purchase of the 50.01% stake in London's second-busiest airport from a group of investors including sovereign wealth funds from Abu Dhabi and Australia will be completed in the first half of 2019, Vinci said on Thursday.

The French group is investing despite short-term uncertainty about the impact on travel of Britain's departure from the European Union at the end of March.

USA investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake in Gatwick Airport for £2.9bn.

While Gatwick recovers from the Christmas crisis of drones flying over its airspace in West Sussex, grounding hundreds of flights and delaying hundreds of thousands of Christmas travellers, its five global owners have halved their stake, selling up to Vinci in a deal that values the airport at £5.8 billion.

Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, who will remain in his role, said the airport was learning lessons to avoid a repeat of the disruption.

Global Infrastructure Partners, which manages more than $40bn in assets from ports and airports to a vast wind farm in the North Sea, bought London's second-busiest airport with the consortium of investors in 2009 for about £1.5bn. Its shares have fallen 17 per cent this year, valuing Vinci at 42.1 billion euros (S$65.9 billion).

Vinci manages about 35 airports, in countries including Chile and Cambodia.

The company also operates toll roads and a construction business.

Notebaert said the deal would "not in the least" affect Vinci's interest in Paris airports operator ADP, which the government plans to privatise.

But the company has also been buying up airports - most recently in Brazil, Japan, and Serbia - making it "a top 5 global player in the worldwide airport sector", according to a statement by Gatwick.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.