The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has acquired London Stansted Airport from Heathrow Airport Holdings for £1.5bn ($2.37bn).
Stansted Airport’s 14 airlines handled around 17.5m passengers flying to more than 150 destinations in 32 countries in 2012, with Ryanair accounting for around 70% of its total traffic. World Duty Free operates the DF&TR retail operation.
Stansted’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and exceptional items) reached £86.6m ($137.3m) in 2011 and has been estimated at £94.2m ($149.4m) in 2012 by its previous owners prior to the sale.
The airport’s Regulated Asset Base (RAB) was £1,359.5m ($2,156.7m) as at 31 December 2011 and was estimated at £1,342.7m ($2,130.1m) as of 31 December 2012.
Stansted is the UK’s fourth busiest airport and its forecast cash balance at the expected sale closing date at the end of February 2013 is forecast to come in at £34.2m ($54.2m). The Manchester Airports Group’s advisors on the deal were Deutsche Bank, ING, Freshfields, Herbert Smith, PwC, Steer Davies Gleave, Environ, Marsh and Strutt & Parker.
Commenting on the sale, Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews said: “Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time. It has been named by passengers as ‘the world’s best airport for low-cost airlines’ for two consecutive years at the Skytrax World Airport Awards and we are proud of its achievements.
“We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports”.
Approximately 10,200 people work at Stansted, including 1,400 airport employees and the airport was put up for sale after the UK Competition Commission ruled that BAA – as it was known then – operated a monopoly on London’s airports.
This led to the earlier sale of Gatwick Airport. Prior to BAA being acquired by a consortium led by Spanish construction company Ferrovial in July 2006, Stansted Airport’s DF&TR sales under World Duty Free stood at £37m ($59m) growing to £44m ($70m) by 2007, although this total is estimated at around $100m today and does not include specialist retailing at the low-cost airport.