Macquarie puts Bristol International airport up for sale

19.4.2009   (Sunday Times)

by Ben Marlow

MACQUARIE has put Bristol International airport up for sale as the embattled
Australian infrastructure giant scrambles to raise cash.

The group is understood to have sounded out potential buyers for the airport,
which carried more than 6m passengers in 2008.

Industry sources say possible bidders include Prudential’s M&G’s infrastructure fund and Fortis, which recently bought Belfast’s George Best airport.

The airport was valued at around €320m ( £283m) in 2006, but interested bidders are likely to offer much less now.

During the boom, Macquarie paid huge prices for infrastructure assets, often
with big debt packages, that have since values plummet. Many of its funds are
now dumping assets at depressed prices to meet refinancing payments and return
money to investors.

One senior industry source said: "There is a vast gap between directors’ valuations
and their own stock price.

What it means is a flood of assets coming into the market which is further depressing

The value of Bristol airport may be affected by a recent fall in its passenger
numbers, which plunged 26% in February, and 20% so far this year as recession-hit
travellers cut back on flying

Macquarie and Cintra, a subsidiary of BAA’s Spanish owner Ferrovial, bought the
airport jointly in 2001 for £198m.    In 2006, Macquarie purchased Ferrovial’s
50% stake for €158m.