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AENA and AXA Private Equity to acquire London Luton Airport

Spain’s AENA, the world’s largest airports operator with some 200 million passengers a year, has agreed to acquire London Luton Airport, the UK’s fifth largest airport in terms of passengers, in association with the infrastructure fund of AXA Private Equity.

The consortium, in which AENA has a 51 per cent stake and AXA Private Equity 49 per cent, will pay TBI Limited GBP394.4m for the London Luton airport concession.
 
TBI is owned jointly by Abertis Infraestructuras with a 90 per cent shareholding, and by AENA, with a 10 per cent shareholding. The transaction is subject to the authorisation of the competition authorities, the contracting authority (Luton Borough Council) and the Spanish Government.
 
The acquisition of London Luton airport will mark AENA’s first step in a strategy that aims to replace minority participations it holds in a number of international airports with a portfolio of airports in which it has management control. AENA operates 46 airports in Spain, including Madrid (45 million annual passengers) and Barcelona (35 million passengers). In peak periods London Luton, which is the base of EasyJet, serves 14 airports in Spain operated by AENA. London Luton handled 9.6 million passengers 2012 and will be AENA’s fifth largest airport.
 
AENA’s London Luton purchase will be financed by existing credit lines and by the sale of minority stakes it holds in international airports. The acquisition of London Luton will not represent any additional debt and will improve AENA’s EBITDA by approximately EUR46m in the first year following the acquisition. AENA has completed a strong economic turnaround after reducing costs and raising revenues over the past two years. AENA’s EBITDA is forecast to stand at EUR1.5bn at the end of this year against EUR1.1bn in 2012 and EUR0.8bn in 2011.
 
AENA has expressed interest in the forthcoming operating concessions in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte airports in Brazil.
 
Jose Manuel Vargas, AENA’s executive chairman, says: “We aim to substantially build up London Luton in consultation with all its stakeholders. AENA intends to be an active player in the consolidation of the global airport sector and we are delighted to have AXA Private Equity, which is a key infrastructure investor in Europe, as our partner in this initial step we have taken with the acquisition of London Luton.”
 
In March this year, AXA Private Equity raised its latest EUR1.75bn infrastructure fund (Fund III). Through the London Luton transaction, the company now adds the airports sector to its stable of quality European infrastructure assets where it invests alongside strategic partners. 
 
Dominique Senequier, chief executive of AXA Private Equity, says: “We welcome this opportunity to partner with AENA, through our infrastructure fund, to invest in London Luton Airport. As long term investors in assets that underpin growth in economies, AXA Private Equity looks forward to working closely with all parties involved to ensure the responsible growth of this important European airport.”

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