The deal, which values Heathrow at £4.5 billion, is the fourth time Ferrovial has trimmed its holding in the airports group in two years and reduces its stake to 25pc, down from 62pc when it bought BAA in 2006 in a £10.3 billion deal.
BAA, which changed its name to Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) last year, has changed dramatically since the 2006 takeover, as the UK’s competition authorities have forced the company to sell off Edinburgh, Gatwick and Stansted airports. Heathrow still owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.
Ferrovial will remain the largest shareholder in Heathrow following the deal with USS, which is expected to complete on Thursday.
USS will hold the seventh biggest stake behind China Investment Corporation, the sovereign wealth fund which bought 10pc of the airports operator in October 2012.
Ferrovial’s chief executive, Íñigo Meirás, insisted the Spanish company remained committed to Heathrow in the long-term, despite cutting its holding significantly in the last seven years.
“This sale of a stake in HAH is a further part of Ferrovial’s investment diversification strategy. Following this deal, we reiterate our role in HAH as the main shareholder and industrial partner in the long term,” Mr Meirás said.
Ferrovial is selling the stake in FGP Topco, the holding company for Heathrow.
USS is the final salary pension scheme for universities and other higher education institutions in the UK. It manages around £40 billion, making it one of the largest pension schemes in the UK.
In October 2011, Ferrovial sold a 5.88 per cent stake to Alinda Capital Partners for €325m. Less than a year later, in August 2012, it struck a deal with Qatar Holdings before further reducing its holding to 33.65 pc last October through an agreement with China Investment Corporation.
The latest deal with USS comes amid a row with airlines and the UK’s airports regulator over the maximum return Heathrow’s shareholders should be allowed to generate on their investments.
Ferrovial in new deal to cut its stake in Heathrow Airport Holdings to 20%
November 22, 2012 Spain’s Ferrovial has signed a new shareholders’ pact in Heathrow Airport Holdings that opens the door for the infrastructure firm to cut its stake to 20%. The new agreement follows the purchase of stakes in Heathrow, formerly known as BAA, by Qatari and Chinese funds, as Ferrovial has sold 16% of its stake over the past year to reduce its holding to 34%. It owned 55.9% of BAA in January 2011. According to Espirito Santo Investment Bank, Ferrovial must keep a stake of at least 25% for now and at least 20% from 2019, when a £600 million credit line matures. Click here to view full story…
Qatar sovereign wealth fund buys 20% stake in BAA leaving Ferrovial 40%
August 22, 2012 Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is buying 20% of BAA, adding it to a portfolio of British interests including stakes in Harrods, Barclays and J Sainsbury. Ferrovial will sell a 10.6% stake to Qatar Holding. At the same time two more shareholders have sold shares representing 9.4% of the business to the fund, leaving it with a 20% investment in BAA. The total value of the transaction is £900m. Qatar Holding is funded by proceeds from the world’s third largest gas reserves and wants more investment in the UK. This represents further retrenchment by Ferrovial from one of the UK’s most bruising foreign takeovers, although it denied that it is seeking a full exit from BAA. Ferrovial shareholding in BAA will be less than 40% once the Qatar deal is completed, while it owned 55% in 2010. BAA still has almost £11 billion debt. Click here to view full story…