Vinci buys majority stake
GIP’s Gatwick sale fuels speculation over Edinburgh
Gatwick: at peak times it has the world’s busiest single runway
Gatwick airport owner Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and its co-shareholders, is selling a 50.01% stake to Vinci Airports for £2.9 billion.
The deal has rekindled speculation that GIP will also sell Edinburgh Airport after it was said to have put a sale on hold last year, apparently because it felt Brexit uncertainties would hit the price tag. It acquired Gatwick in 2009 and Edinburgh in 2012 from BAA.
GIP sold London City Airport in 2016 to a consortium including Canada’s Borealis Infrastructure and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for more than £2bn, having bought it for only £742 million in 2006.
The sale of its majority stake in Gatwick follows a tumultuous few days which saw hundreds of flights grounded because of reports of drones flying in the area.
France-based Vinci Airports is a worldwide operator with a network of 46 airports in 12 countries, serving more than 228 million passengers. Gatwick operations and management will be unchanged through the partnership.
Adebayo Ogunlesi, GIP chairman and managing partner, said: “We welcome VINCI Airports, one of the world’s most respected airport operators, as a partner in Gatwick airport. We look forward to building on the Gatwick success story together.”
Michael McGhee, GIP partner, said: “This partnership is focused on continuing the transformation at the airport over the last decade. We are pleased VINCI Airports shares our vision of Gatwick’s future.
“We expect the transaction to be completed by the middle of next year, with the senior leadership team remaining in place. 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 senior management team at Gatwick will stay in post, with Sir David Higgins (Chairman), Stewart Wingate (CEO) and Nick Dunn (CFO) continuing in their roles, along with other key managers. GIP will continue to manage the remaining 49.99% interest in Gatwick after the transaction closes.
Gatwick, which at peak times is the busiest single runway airport in the world, published a draft master plan for consultation in October. That plan, which considers the airport’s development to 2040, is unaffected by today’s announcement.
Referring to the recent drone chaos, Mr Wingate, pictured, today said: “Now we are through the recent disruption at the airport and services are fully back to normal I would once again like to express my thanks to passengers for their patience during this challenging period.
“I would also like to thank all those who have supported my teams in getting Gatwick back up and running, particularly our airlines, the police, the armed forces, other airports, the CAA and the Department for Transport.
“I know this unprecedented criminal activity caused huge inconvenience to thousands of people – many of whom missed important family events in the run up to Christmas. We have appreciated the understanding and tolerance shown at what was a really challenging time for everyone, and we are grateful that passengers recognised that we should never do anything that might jeopardise their safety.
“There are obviously wider strategic lessons for everyone involved to prevent it happening again, and Gatwick itself has taken a number of important steps in recent days which will make a significant difference to the airport’s resilience.
“While today’s announcement marks an exciting moment in Gatwick’s future, my team and I remain focussed on doing everything we can to help ensure that travel runs as smoothly as possible for everyone over the rest of the festive period.”