BUSINESSDESK: The $19.7 billion New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Wellington-based asset manager Morrison & Co have teamed up to bid for London's Stansted Airport, the Telegraph newspaper reports on its website.
The UK's third largest airport is being reluctantly put up for sale by BAA under pressure from the Britain's Competition Commission, which has already forced the airport investor to sell the Gatwick and Edinburgh airports and it is now set to lose control of Stansted.
Stansted could sell for about £1 billion, according to British media reports. BAA has fought a three-year legal battle to try to block the sale, the Telegraph says.
A spokeswoman for the Super Fund, which manages retirement funds for all New Zealanders, declined to comment on the report, which she called "speculative". Calls were referred to Morrison & Co, where a spokesman was not immediately available.
The Super Fund would be joined in the bid by Infratil, the listed investment group managed by Morrison & Co. It would mark an extension of the investment relationship between the fund and the Wellington-based group, which invested together in the Shell downstream assets including the petrol stations rebranded as Z.
The Telegraph reports that BAA's controlling shareholder, Ferrovial, has issued non-disclosure agreements with interested bidders for the sale of Stansted, which is being managed by Deutsche Bank and ING.
The report says Infratil's interest in Stansted is surprising given it is trying to sell two smaller UK airports, Glasgow Prestwick and Manston in Kent.
Through Infratil's Prestwick operations, the company has forged a relationship with low-fare carrier Ryanair, which accounts for almost 70% of Stansted's traffic. The Morrison & Co group has held early talks with Ryanair, the Telegraph says.
The New Zealand bidders will be up against Manchester Airports Group, which is thought to have garnered support from Australia's Industry Funds Management for a bid.
Investment banks JP Morgan, Citi Infrastructure Partners and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners may also bid, the Telegraph says.
Infratil shares were unchanged at $2.14 on the NZX today and have gained 14% this year. The stock is rated "outperform", based on the consensus of six recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a price target of about $2.30.
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