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Airport investors forsake secondary airport transactions: Part 2

The first part of this report, entitled "Airport investors forsake secondary airport transactions for larger deals that attract credit rating", outlined the seeming trend towards a more highly tuned focus on airport investment, where a more conservative profile could be due to the emergence of a new wave of investor; these include investment funds, pension, hedge and sovereign wealth funds and venture capitalists.

It also reviewed some of the global markets where transactions are in train or recently completed, relying on CAPA's Global Airport Investors Database, a part of our Airport Data Suite, noting that one reason for the trend could be found in a recent ACI-Europe report which showed that 44% of Europe’s airports are loss-making, mostly smaller regional ones.

This second part contains primarily a summary of those secondary airports globally which are currently for sale/lease/concession or where a transaction was recently concluded. As a complement to that a list is provided of former investors which have discontinued investing; among these private equity and hedge funds are conspicuous.

All of the information in this report comes from CAPA's Global Airport Investors database; this currently lists 522 active investors; some which are retired but potentially could reactivate; and potentially (new) active investors across the world. For further information, please contact info@centreforaviation.com

For the first part of this report, please see:

Airport investors forsake secondary airport transactions for larger deals that attract credit rating

Secondary airports currently for sale/lease/concession or recently concluded

Airport

Country

Notes

Ljubljana

Slovenia

China Southern Airlines has expressed interest in acquiring a 75% stake, one of more than 20 companies that include Fraport, Munich Airport, Vinci, Egis, and SAVE. This is perhaps the best prospect for a smaller airport but in its favour it is the capital city airport and had an EBITDA margin of 34% in 2013.

Castellon

Spain

An operating contract was signed with concessionaire SNC-Lavalin (Canada) in May-2014, valued at EUR24.5 million over 25 years, after the airport was opened two years ago but has so far not seen a single commercial flight. Lavalin is said to be "optimistic" about the unused airport's potential and is aiming to see "over one million travellers in a reasonable timeframe." Castellon has been regarded as one of Spain’s ‘aeromuertos’.

Ciudad Real

Spain

Another aeromuerto that was opened by a consortium of public and private interests to compete with Madrid Airport but which failed to attract sufficient passenger or freight traffic to be viable (despite the construction of a logistics city) and subsequently closed down. Received offers or expressions of interest from China’s HNA group, a business jet leasing operator and a strange British Virgin Islands based company with no connection to aviation but then went to public auction with a guide price of EUR80 million, having cost EUR1.4 billion to build.

Murcia Airport

Spain

Intended as a replacement for the San Javier joint military/civil airport but yet to find an operator.

Norwich Airport

UK

Omniport sold its 80% holding to the Rigby Group, which also owns and/or operates Coventry, Exeter, Blackpool and City of Derry airports, in Jun-2014. Rigby Group is one of few UK-based airport operating groups that are expanding.

Wonderboom National Airport

South Africa

The City of Tshwane plans to sell this airport in response to a study which concluded the private sector would be better able to raise funds for the facility's development and expects the approval, sale and transfer process to take 18 to 22 months. Response not yet known.

Sendai Airport

Japan

The Miyagi Prefecture is inviting submissions from interested parties to manage Sendai Airport. The Prefecture advised the transfer value of the two companies, namely Sendai Airport Building and Sendai Air Cargo Terminal, as JPY5687.5 million (USD55.5 million). The government will launch a public offering from Jul-2014.

Various

Philippines

The country's Governmentwill consider issuing project tenders for Laguindingan, Bohol, Iloilo, Puerto Princessa, Davao, Bacolod, and Manila airports by the end of 2014. The government will commission consultants to investigate the feasibility of staging a competitive bidding process to develop the airports under a PPP programme.

Manas International Airport

 

Kyrgyzstan

The government is attempting to sell 51% of the airport to any investor able to provide cheap jet fuel and commit to building the airport into a hub.

Cuneo

Italy

The airport will offer a 68% stake to a private partner and expects to raise at least EUR15 million over five years as a result. The airport said “deals are coming” but did not reveal details of interested parties.

Forlì

Italy

The Province of Forlì-Cesena published a public call for tenders for the 30-year global management of Forlì Airport in Apr-2014 with a series of incentives including: no compensation for the works carried out so far required; no specific investment necessary to operate the airport that is already equipped; and a series of benefits provided by the local authorities (more than EUR2 million financing for new investments and available areas close to the airport for non aviation activities).

Salerno

Italy

The airport issued a tender for 65% of its shareholding “to become the second hub of Campania, able to accommodate the tourists who choose to come in Campania", in Apr-2014. The response is not known.

Rimini

Italy

The CAA announced a tender for the management of Rimini Miramare Airport in Apr-2014. The concession is valid for a 30-year period from the date of issue. The concession covers the development, design, construction, adjustment, operation, maintenance and use of facilities and infrastructure for the operation of the airport. Tenders must be submitted to the CAA by 06-Sep-2014. The airport is currently operated by Aeradria SpA.

Genoa

Italy

The airport is to be privatised. No further details available.

Lampedusa

Italy

The CAA (ENAC) issued a tender for the concession for the total management of Lampedusa Airport in Jan-2014. No response has so far been reported.

Maastricht

Netherlands

A potential reverse privatisation from Omniport (UK) to the Dutch province of Limburg.

Björkvik

Sweden

A former military base, it has been placed on the market for SEK20 million (EUR2.25 million), by its owner Per Samuelsson. The airport offers a 2km runway and is reportedly in good condition. No takers reported.

Milas-Bodrum

Turkey

The airport was auctioned to highest bidder TAV in Mar-2014. TAV is a major investor in Turkish airports (Istanbul, Ankara etc).

Gary, Indiana

USA

The airport accepted an ordinance including agreements with Aviation Facilities Co Inc(AFCO) to operate and manage development in Jan-2014. AFCO will be required to attract USD25 million in airport investment within the next three years and, within a year; it is required to present a plan for attracting an additional USD75 million over the agreement’s 40-year term.

Most of these 20 examples are in Europe as that is the main location of individual airport sales or leases. It is interesting how many are in Italy, a country in which on at least two occasions in the last four years the government has indicated there are too many airports and they need to be slimmed down. The most recent diktat was from the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Maurizio Lupi, in Jan-2014, who announced a project aiming to reduce the number of Italian airports to 37 would "cross the finish line" in Jun-2014.

The plan, passed by the Consiglio dei Ministri, proposes to “reduce the waste of many smaller airports”.

It is usually more difficult to close down an airport under private ownership as their municipal owners will have realised.

The Global Airport Investors database currently lists 522 active; retired but which potentially could reactivate; or potentially (new) active investors across the world. But in any discussion on the theme of ‘where have the investors gone?’ it is necessary to look in detail at some of those firms, both big and small, and why they chose to quit investing directly in the sector, or cut back on investing or managing airports outside their own direct sphere of influence.

Investors that have dropped out or scaled back

Investor

Country

Background & Reasons for withdrawal from airport sector or reduction in activity, where known

Abertis

Spain

Infrastructure conglomerate powerful in toll roads and telecoms, which built up its airport portfolio to over 35 worldwide through investment in those airports or takeovers, but then began slowly to exit the sector in 2011 to focus on its telecommunications and highways businesses. Will draw a line under its multibillion-euro divestment programme by the end of 2014, when the group aims to have sold its last remaining airport assets in Jamaica and Mexico. Was stymied by two many sellers (e.g. the Spanish government with AENA) seeking outright investors over hands-on investors/operators.

Aeroports de Paris

France

Active in airport privatisation and operation for 40 years and having built up a portfolio across the world, AdP began to scale back external activities following its partial IPO in 2006, subsequently built them up again and then promptly ceased most of these activities subsequent to taking a 38% stake in TAV Airports in 2013. Sale of a 9% stake in AdP means the government is again the majority shareholder and would inevitably prefer AdP to focus on the Paris airports.

Aena Internacional

Spain

Once a major investor/operator across the world and especially so in Europe and Latin America, Aena Internacional’s portfolio has shrunk in recent years but it still has interests in 15 airports. Subsequent to the forthcoming privatisation of Aena Aeropuertos (2014) AI may begin to seek new investment opportunities in those two regions because Aena’s growth prospects – in the absence of overseas deals – rest on Spain continuing its uncertain economic recovery after a bruising recession.

Airports of Thailand

Thailand

The partially privatised (through a 2004 IPO) AoT was often considered to be a potential overseas airport investor but has been restricted by continuing difficulties in Bangkok and at other Thai airports and apart from being linked to the Cusco Chinchero green field airport project in Peru since Feb-2013 has not otherwise been obviously active.

Balfour Beatty Capital

UK

Once majority investor in, and operator of, airports in Exeter, Blackpool and Londonderry (all UK), Balfour Beatty sold its interests to Patriot Aerospace (Rigby Group) in 2013, having had to write down the value of Exeter Airport to nil on its books. Has not been involved in the sector since.

Bridgepoint Capital

UK

London-based private equity fund that acquired 100% of Leeds Bradford airport for a hefty sum at the height of airport asset boom and looked set to expand widely in the sector. Previously had bought and sold a stake in Birmingham Airport. However, while it is still very much involved its activities have been limited to hands-on management of Leeds Bradford airport, at which it has been successful.

Brussels Airport

Belgium

Never more than a dabbler in external group style transactions Brussels Airport became longer active in airport investment since being taken over (majority stake) by Macquarie Airports but retained occasional projects such as short-term management of Ostend Airport. Prior to take over by Macquarie, was an investor in the new-build Castellon Airport, Spain (an investment then transferred to Abertis, before being taken over by local municipalities for onward transfer to SNC Lavalin). Now solely active in localised investment at Brussels. This scenario could change subsequent to MAp selling its stake in the airport but shows no sign of doing so.

Churchill Airports

UK

Once an investor/operator at Blackpool (UK), Pilsen Airport (Czech Republic) and Black Forest Lahr Airport (Germany) and actively seeking larger projects Churchill Airports activities have diminished considerably in the last two years.

Citigroup/Citibank

USA-UK

Once active with Vantage Group (as it still is, as a 50% shareholder) and in big deals such as Chicago Midway, London Gatwick and London Stansted has only emerged recently in respect of the new terminal construction at New York La Guardia airport (2013). Lost money when it walked away from the first Midway transaction (2009).

Colonial First State

Australia

Asset management business of Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Has over 10 years experience in infrastructure investment and management with interests in Brisbane Airport, Perth Airport, Adelaide Airport and Sydney Bankstown Airport. A member of the Goldman Sachs led consortium that made a counter offer for BAA plc in 2006. Has been relatively quiet for three years.

Deutsche Bank RREEF

Germany

RREEF Alternative Investments is the global alternative investment management business of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division. Was involved with major transactions such as London Gatwick Airport, London Stansted Airport and Hochtief’s non-German airport assets. In 2012 Deutsche Bank tried to sell off RREEF and little has been heard of it in the airport sector ever since.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE)

UAE

In 2006 the Emirate of Dubai revealed plans to invest USD15 billion by 2015 in a new company, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), which would, inter alia, develop airports, as ‘DAE Airports’. Progress in the airports division was slower than anticipated and DAE was rebuffed in New Zealand where shareholders declined to permit it to acquire a 60% stake in Auckland International Airport with the world’s largest ever earnings multiple in the sector (40x). DAE re-emerged when the break-up of BAA became a probability but since then it has scarcely been heard of and the company has been reconstituted with three divisions that do not include airport investment. Its only continuing involvement has been with the Maktoum Airport in Dubai.

Eiser Infrastructure

UK

Spun out of the ABN AMRO bank Eiser Infrastructure is a global infrastructure fund with over EUR1.1 Billion in committed capital. The current fund is closed to new investors. Has a broad portfolio of investments and is 100% owner of Belfast City Airport, UK but that is the only airport investment to date.

Equistone Partners

UK

A mid-market private equity investor working principally in Europe that operates external funds, jointly (with Barclays Private Equity's [BPE] contribution). Infrastructure Funds are targeted mainly at 'social' projects such as schools, hospitals, etc but one buy-out sector is consumer/travel, which involves airlines and accommodation (hotels). Was a reserve bidder for Leeds Bradford Airport with Churchill Airports. BPE entered a preliminary EoI at the RfQ stage for Chicago Midway Airport (alone) in Feb-2013 but was unsuccessful. Nothing since.

Flughafen Wien

Austria

Investor/Operator at Kosice, Malta and Friedrichshafen airports and previously linked to investments at Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (when that redevelopment from the existing Schoenefeld Airport was in the private sector), also Hamburg, Lisbon, Budapest, St Petersburg, Male and Cyprus and Mexican airports. From Nov-2013, Flughafen Wien began to try to sell shares in its foreign businesses, starting with Friedrichshafen and Malta and Kosice as the foreign shareholdings were generating losses. Now focused almost exclusively on developments at Vienna.

Galaxy Fund

Luxembourg

An investment fund dedicated to European transport infrastructure, was an investor in Exeter (with Balfour Beatty) and Sienna airports, formed a consortium with Cologne Bonn Airport to bid for London City Airport in 2006 and progressed to the second round. Bid with ABN AMRO for the privatisation of Sydney Airport and in a 2004 bid for privatisation of Brussels Airport with Vinci. Led the ISAP Consortium in the 66% share acquisition of the Bratislava and Kosice Airports in the Slovak Republic. Bids placed on Leeds Bradford International Airport, Birmingham International Airport. None of the above successful. Nothing has been heard since Jun-2012 and the fund is now regarded as inactive.

GE Infrastructure

USA

Originally (since 2006) an investment manager for organisations wishing to invest in airport facilities, and financier of a low cost terminal in Texas, the company was split up and operations moved to GE Capital. Having been a bidder for the Luis Marin Munoz airport in Puerto Rico in a consortium no further interest in the sector has been shown that is known of.

Goldman Sachs

USA

Having set up several funds targeted at transport sector acquisitions, Goldman Sachs (which also operates as an investment advisor to third parties) was involved in unsuccessful consortium bids in respect of BAA (2006); Chicago Midway airport (twice); and SEA (Milan). Only known interests presently are in the new New York La Guardia airport terminal and Kansai Airport. Included here because this enormous investment bank, with dedicated funds, might have been expected to be more active in the sector than it has been.

Infratil

New Zealand

Once an owner and/or operator at various levels of financial involvement at Wellington, Auckland, Glasgow Prestwick, Manston and Luebeck airports, with plans to develop the Whenuapai military base near Auckland as a commercial facility. Infratil, the investment fund of the company HRL Morrison and one of the world's first infrastructure funds, has now retrenched entirely to Wellington Airport while it continues to focus on surface transport and energy sectors although Infratil Asia did bid in the Mactan Cebu (Philippines) construction contract. Considered unlikely to return to the sector as an owner/operator in the foreseeable future.

JP Morgan Asset Management

USA

Created its Infrastructure Investments Group in 2006 but little activity noted, the UK’s Edinburgh and London Stansted airports being the only known targets.

Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts

USA

KKR is a guarded US-based private equity investment group that, along with some of its peers, amassed an estimated USD250 billion war chest to finance a wave of infrastructure projects in the United States and overseas. Shows an occasional interest in the aviation sector but no more.

Macquarie Airports (MAP)

Australia

Once the owner/partial owner/operator of Copenhagen; Brussels; Birmingham, Bristol & Newcastle (UK); and Rome airports as well as part-owner of Mexico’s ASUR group, and linked to bids for many others, MAP steadily retrenched to its Australia base in 2011 after a share swop with OTPP (Canada) saw it give up its interests in Brussels and Copenhagen airports. No longer active outside of Sydney but has right of first refusal on the operation of the new Sydney airport when it is built. Other parts of the Macquarie financial empire do remain active in the sector.

New Zealand Superannuation Fund

New Zealand

A leading pension fund that joined a consortium with Infratil and an Australian fund to bid for London Gatwick airport which was withdrawn owing to a shortage of bank financing. Looked like it could be a major new player but nothing heard of since, apart from it reducing its holding in Auckland Airport down to just 2%.

Omniport

UK

Small operator backed by private equity and investment firms that operated Glasgow Prestwick Airport and subsequently Norwich and Maastricht (Netherlands) airports before selling its majority share at Norwich airport in Jun-2014. Maastricht may revert to the public sector. No known acquisitions in the pipeline.

Sacyr Vallehermoso

Spain

Significant Spanish construction/infrastructure/concessions company that belatedly entered the airport sector, and for much the same reason as did Grupo Ferrovial, i.e. to help smooth the ups and downs of the construction cycle with a steady cash-flow business. Potential bidder for construction business at Lisbon Airport and then got involved with the new Murcia Airport in southeast Spain, where its construction and concession contract was revoked. Recently the only known activity is with administration and modernisation contracts for four airports in Colombia (2013).

Schiphol International (out in)

Netherlands

Owner/part owner and operator of four airports in the Netherlands including Amsterdam Schiphol, also airports in the Dutch Antilles, USA and Australia. Declared an interest in a succession of BAA airports in the UK without actually bidding, and refocused on China where it had mixed fortunes but also sold out of its interests in Indonesia. Went through a quiet spell lasting several years during which the International office was closed until 2013 when it re-emerged to be linked with privatisation in Brazil, also Peru and Istanbul (the third airport project). But restricted over a lengthy period by its own long drawn out and now abandoned privatisation (Schiphol Airport Group) and by the need to re-establish Amsterdam Schiphol as a primary northern European hub while the nearby UK is wracked with indecision about airport capacity.

SEA SpA

Italy

A once voracious investor, both in Italy and abroad (especially Argentina) SEA was sidetracked by its own failed trade sale (2006) and IPO (several times between 2011 and 2012). Was eventually subject to a bid for a large part of its equity by the Italian investor F2i, which now owns 44.3%. SEA has been delisted from the Italian Stock Exchange. Its days as an investor in its own right would appear to be over.

Siemens Project Ventures

Germany

A 40% owner of Bangalore Airport in India (subsequently reduced to 26%), Siemens, because of its size and scope, was projected to be a major new source of funding for the sector but as far as is known the only other projects in which it has shown much interest is a new terminal at Kuwait Airport, the first (abandoned) privatisation procedure for Madrid and Barcelona airports in 2011, and the second round of privatisations in Brazil. Remains very big in the energy sector and only likely to emerge for very big airport projects.

Stagecoach Group/Souter Investments

UK

Better known for its bus operations Stagecoach Group was one of the new wave of (mainly) UK surface transport investors into airports in the late 1990s, operating Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which was later sold to Omniport. Very quiet thereafter until it made a bid for Edinburgh Airport in 2011. One-time Director Ann Gloag acquired Manston Airport (UK) through a separate company in 2013 but almost immediately closed it and put it up for sale.

Terra Firma Capital Partners

UK

Large British private equity firm that occasionally dabbles in air transport, travel and hotels, but not presently in airports. Put forward a tentative solo bid for Budapest Airport (second round) in 2005 and achieved qualifying status but did not see it through. Invests in "sustainable businesses that are asset-backed, in essential industries and require fundamental change" for transformation with a long-term approach. The problem is that now so many airports are not sustainable and have certainly gone out of fashion with Terra Firma.

TPG Capital

USA

Leading US private equity firm specialising in distressed companies and turnarounds, and previously involved directly or indirectly with the airline sector. Showed an interest in London Stansted airport but did not firm it up and that is the extent of its interest so far as is known.

Vinci (out and back in)

France

A manager of airports across France, also China, Southeast Asia, Africa and Mexico but successively scaled back these foreign operations to just Cambodia. Then went quiet for several years until attracted by the disposal of Hochtief’s airport portfolio, and the privatisation of Portugal’s ANA Airports, in which it was successful. That was the catalyst for a statement of intent to launch the ANA concession as a platform for further investments in Latin America and Asia (and subsequently in the Greek regional airports and Ljubljana, Slovenia). That represents a 360 degree round trip back to the position it was in at the beginning of the previous decade. Vinci is included here to demonstrate that some investor/operators can slip quickly into/out of and back into the sector but this is almost a unique case in its complexity.

3i

UK

A private equity firm that is not specifically geared towards infrastructure but which bid for London Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport (unsuccessful) - on both occasions in a consortium - and emerged as a potential strategic investor in Manchester Airport Group in a consortium with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (withdrew interest). It was then shortlisted for the 49% stake in Newcastle (UK) Airport that was offered by Copenhagen Airports. Since early 2013 the only transaction it has been connected with is the sale of stakes in the UK’s main air navigation service provider, NATS.

In short: private equity and hedgeOne factor that is notable from this short table is the reduction in interest from private equity companies (and also hedge funds). These financial sources are inherent risk takers in search of a fast buck and perhaps the sector has become just too risky.

On the other hand the ‘in it for the long run’ investment, pension, and sovereign wealth funds are still in evidence.

It is a question of both supply and demand. Is it that there is no longer the same degree of interest in the airport sector, or no potential deals? A bit of both. There are still major deals on offer but they are fewer and more far between than they were while the minor deals usually find it difficult to attract investor interest unless they have some sort of unique selling proposition such as they are next to a newly discovered gold mine or in close proximity to the designated location for a new capital city to be built.

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