BAA ordered to sell three airports

AFTER a two-year investigation, the UK’s antitrust regulator has confirmed that will force BAA to sell three of its seven UK airports. Two of those must be London Stansted and Gatwick, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport in Scotland – all three must be sold within two years.

Ferrovial, which went into heavy debt to buy the airport consortium in 2006 now have a month to lodge an appeal, an opportunity it will surely take. The Spanish construction and infrastructure company bought BAA for £10.3 billion (US$13.7 billion) taking its debt to €26 billion. It is only likely to make €4 billion in the sale.

In a statement, BAA said: “BAA will consider the Competition Commission report carefully before deciding how to respond.

“We accept the need to change and, having reorganised to improve customer service and having initiated the sale of Gatwick, BAA is already changing.

“However, we believe the Commission’s analysis is flawed and its remedies may be impractical in current economic conditions.”

“We recognise that in using our powers in this way, we will have a significant impact on BAA’s business,” said Christopher Clarke, chairman of the BAA inquiry. “However, given the nature and scale of the competition problems we have found, we do not consider that alternative measures, such as the sale of only one of the London airports or greater regulation, will suffice.”

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