Vienna has always been at the nucleus of power in central Europe, long before the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, while not a financial centre, it is the seat of organisations such as the United Nations, OPEC and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Vienna's airport is the most prestigious in central/southeast Europe and its high rate of full service passenger traffic was always going to be attractive to external investors – who include Australia’s Industry Funds Management (IFM), whose subsidiary AGE has an almost 40% stake in Flughafen Wien, which has already been increased from the original investment, and that totals three airports.
Now that subsidiary, buoyed no doubt by IFM’s success in buying the publicly floated Sydney Airport, seeks to increase its stake to almost 50%, but it will not be at the expense of the city and the province. Instead, it is likely to come from institutional shareholders, Vienna Airport ironically having been one of the first airports to have had its shares floated on a stock exchange. Flughafen Wien has responded by urging those shareholders not to accept the offer.
The purported transaction may also raise questions about IFM’s ambitions with regard to its other major investment in Europe, into Manchester Airports Group, where equity ownership is on a similar level to that of Flughafen Wien, but where a different set of circumstances apply.
This is part two of a two-part report.