Macquarie Airports sells its stake in Bristol airport

17.9.2009   (FT)

By Peter Smith in Sydney

Australia’s Macquarie Airports has reshuffled its European portfolio after agreeing to sell its 35.5% stake
in Bristol Airport and lifting its holding in Copenhagen Airports to 30.8%.

The Bristol stake is being sold for £128m ($211m) to Ontario Teachers’ Pension
Plan, the Canadian pension scheme that is also selling Macquarie Airports an additional
3.9 % of the Danish airports group.

The shake-up comes as Macquarie Airports separates itself from Macquarie Group, the Australian investment bank that pioneered the listed infrastructure model.

The share prices of Macquarie’s satellite funds, many of which have high debt
levels, have consistently traded at big discounts to net asset value, forcing
the Australian investment bank to make large writedowns on their carrying value.

The listed funds have also lost much of their appeal to stock market investors,
forcing Macquarie to switch its focus to its array of unlisted funds.

Macquarie Group in July agreed to give up its long-term management contract of
Macquarie Airports in return for shares that were then valued at A$345m ($301m).    
Macquarie Airports this year said it would sell its holding in Japan Airport Terminal,
operator of terminal buildings at Haneda Airport, Tokyo’s domestic hub.

The sale price of the Bristol stake is at a 12.7% discount to the asset’s value
at June 30.

Kerrie Mather, Macquarie Airports chief executive, said Bristol had generated
an "excellent" return during the fund’s period of ownership. As Macquarie Airports’
portfolio grew, Bristol’s relative size shrank and it now represents 4% of the
total value of the portfolio.

"We feel that our investors are better served deploying our resources elsewhere,"
she said.

Macquarie Airports said it would buy a further 3.9% stake in Copenhagen Airport
for DKr570m ($112.5m).

"While Copenhagen Airports has experienced a challenging 12 months, traffic performance
has started to benefit from the improving economic environment and new low-cost
carrier capacity," Ms Mather said.

"The airport has recently reached a long-term aeronautical charging agreement
with airlines, positioning the airport well for growth."

Macquarie Airports said the latest deals would result in a A$120m net cash inflow,
lifting cash reserves to about A$900m.