City analysts and observers were taken by surprise this morning after Spanish infrastructure and support services group Grupo Ferrovial indicated that it might consider making an offer for UK airports' company BAA.
Shares in BAA rose sharply by 16% on the news which was revealed by Grupo Ferrovial after the UK Takeover Panel sought its intentions amid bid rumours. Analysts are suggesting that any bid would need to be in the region of ?8bn ($13.9bn).
However, in its statement to the stock market, the Spanish company also made it very clear that there was ‘no certainty’ that any offer will be made.
Ferrovial?s activities include construction, infrastructure, real estate and services. The company is involved in managing four airports – in the UK (2), Australia and Chile, which handle 35m passengers per year, and it is also one of Spain?s largest private-sector car park development companies and currently manages 238,000 spaces, mainly in Spain. Ferrovial is also one of Europe's leading construction companies.
Last August, Ferrovial acquired Swissport, the world's largest independent handling company, which operates at over 180 airports in 41 countries. The transaction valued Swissport at E646m.Ferrovial reported considerable growth in revenues, earnings and margins for the first nine months of its fiscal 2005 year.
The company also pointed to an increase in diversification towards recurring activities (services and infrastructure), a greater international presence and two key transactions in the acquisitions of Texan construction group Webber and handling operator Swissport.