Ferrovial to sell 10% stake in BAA

Image caption,
Ferrovial will remain the largest investor in BAA after the sale

Spanish airport operator Ferrovial has said it will sell a 10% stake in BAA, the operator of Heathrow airport.

The partial sale would help the Spanish company establish a market value for its stake, said Ferrovial's chief executive, Inigo Meiras.

"Heathrow is one of the best infrastructure assets in the world," boasted Mr Meiras, who reaffirmed his company's long-term commitment to BAA.

Proceeds will be used to fund other investments and to pay down debts.

The announcement comes a week after BAA lost an appeal against a ruling that it must spin off Stansted airport, as well as either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport.

The Competition Commission deemed the company's dominance of air traffic into and out of Scotland and London to be unacceptable.

Shares rise

"Initially, the proposed transaction is to divest 10% of the equity," said Ferrovial in a statement, implying the sale may be increased at a later date.

The Spanish operator currently owns just under 56% of the consortium that bought up BAA in 2006, meaning that the planned sale would leave it as a minority investor, albeit the biggest.

Quebec's state pension fund owns a further 26%, and the Singaporean government owns the rest.

Ferrovial's share price rose more than 2% at the open of trading on the Madrid stock exchange, despite shares falling elsewhere.

BAA operates six airports in the UK, namely Heathrow and Stansted at London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland, and Southampton airport.

The company handles about one million flights and 110 million passengers each year.

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