US private equity major TPG Capital LP has entered the bidding race for Stansted, the London airport owned by BAA Airports Limited, the Financial Times reported citing sources familiar with the talks.
TPG is competing in the first bidding round against Australian financial services provider Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) and a consortium made up of The Manchester Airport Group Plc (MAG) and another Australian entity – Industry Funds Management. Stansted, the third biggest airport in London, is estimated to be worth GBP1bn (USD1.6bn/EUR1.2bn), the FT said.
According to several sources, MAG is the contender with the strongest chances of emerging victorious from the battle but TPG has its strengths as well. The US investor has its roots in the aviation industry having been created in the wake of Continental Airlines Inc’s rescue from bankruptcy. TPG has maintained its involvement with the sector and its co-founder David Bonderman is chairman of the board of Ryanair Holdings Plc (LON:RYA). The latter is the holding company for Irish-based budget carrier Ryanair Ltd, which is also Stansted’s top customer.
BAA was forced to put Stansted up for sale in the summer after the failure of its final attempt to reverse a Competition Commission ruling. The operator was instructed in 2009 to sell three airports as part of a decision to break up its monopoly, the FT reminded.
The newspaper went on to add that BAA and its majority owner, Spanish transport infrastructure company Ferrovial SA (MCE:FER), are expected to provide bidders with further details this week. The contestants are expected to receive information regarding the deadline for their second-round bids. According to the article, sufficient airport operating experience will be a prerequisite for making the shortlist.