The largest shareholder in Heathrow and an Australian infrastructure company are poised to take over control of Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports in a deal worth around £1 billion.
The Sunday Times reported that Spanish company Ferrovial has joined forces with Macquarie to buy the three airports from Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH).
More than 200,000 passengers passed through Southampton airport in August, making it the busiest month in seven years. It is the highest number in a single month since August 2007 and represents a 3% increase in passengers on 2013.
Southampton Airport had no comment to add to the takeover report at this stage, however Hampshire Chamber chief executive Stewart Dunn said: “Southampton Airport plays a crucial role in helping to drive our regional economy and we have always supported its growth.
“This sale will be a significant landmark in the further development of the airport. Southampton airport is seeing a growth in passenger numbers and the competitive interest in its sale is a good sign of confidence in our region.
“As the airport goes from strength to strength, this is good news for the many businesses in Hampshire who rely on it to help them connect to markets. We wish the airport every success.”
The sale has been delayed by Heathrow’s complex shareholding structure, but is expected to be announced within weeks. Larger regional airports are changing hands as investors seek assets which offer relatively stable returns and exposure to Britain’s booming economy.
Macquarie sold its 50% share of Bristol airport recently, thus removing a competition hurdle to investment in Southampton airport. Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly BAA) is selling the three sites to focus on expanding Britain’s biggest airport and winning approval for a third runway.