Gatwick Airport to be auctioned says BAA - Gatwick Airport News

Airport news for Gatwick on 18/09/2008.

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The chief executive of Britain’s largest airports owner, Colin Matthews, has commented that sovereign wealth funds were emerging as major financial players in financing airport purchases, as the credit crisis has tightened availability of more traditional financing options for the infrastructure fund and private equity bidders.

"Every observer of the market knows where the money is, and I am sure that sovereign wealth funds would be one of the groups interested," Matthews noted.

Some of the most active, and well-endowed, funds include three based in the Middle East: Abu Dhabi Investment Capital, the Investment Corporation of Dubai and the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Both the Manchester Airport Group and Virgin Atlantic have confirmed an interest in acquiring Gatwick, and have had discussion with sovereign wealth funds regarding backing their bids.

MPs have previously warned that ownership of airports by non-UK entities is against the national interest, with the BAA case in point. BAA is owned by Ferrovial, of Spain.

The former chair of the transport select committee, the late Gwyneth Dunwoody, commented last year that the sale of BAA to a foreign business was a mistake and led to a fall in the standard of service.

"Until we decide, as a nation, to do something about this, it will continue to be the case that decisions of national strategic importance will be taken in the interest of a company based in Madrid and not in the national interest," she stressed.

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