BEIRUT

Regional

Qatar buys fifth of UK airport operator BAA

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: A Qatari government investment fund on Friday said it had reached a deal with Spanish company Ferrovial to buy 20 percent of the company that operates London's Heathrow, Stansted and other British airports.

Qatar Holding LLC said it had agreed to buy the stake in BAA from Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial S.A. and two other existing investors in the airport company.

Ferrovial said in a statement it was selling 10.6 percent of FGP Topco Ltd., the holding company that owns BAA, to Qatar Holding for 478 million pounds ($748.9 million).

Qatar Holding is the main investment arm of the natural gas-rich Gulf nation's sovereign wealth fund. It has several investments in the United Kingdom, including British bank Barclays and Harrods department store.

Ferrovial said that Britannia Airport Partners and GIC had also sold shares in Topco to Qatar Holding, bringing up the fund's holdings in the airport operator to 20 percent.

"The total value of the shares purchased is thus 900 million pounds sterling, or $1.4 billion," Ferrovial said, adding that the sale required approval from the European Competition authorities and was "expected to be completed before the end of the year."

Ferrovial CEO said his group welcomed Qatar Holding's investment and hoped it would "ensure that Heathrow retains its position as one of the best infrastructure assets in the world."

A consortium headed by Ferrovial acquired BAA in June 2006.

 

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