BY Richard Summerfield
Vinci Airports has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Gatwick Airport Limited, the UK’s second-busiest airport, for $3.7bn.
By acquiring a 50.01 percent stake in Gatwick, Vinci now operates 46 airports across 12 countries. Gatwick will be the largest airport in the French company’s portfolio, having handled nearly 46 million passengers in 2018, up from 32 million at the time of its previous sale a decade ago. The airport expects passenger numbers to grow to 60 million in the coming years.
The remaining 49.99 percent share in the company will be held by private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). The deal is expected to complete in the first half of 2019.
“Creating synergies and sharing best practices being at the core of our values, the whole Vinci Airports network will benefit from Gatwick Airport’s world-class management and operational excellence, which has allowed it to deliver strong and steady growth in a very constrained environment,” said Nicolas Notebaert, president of Vinci Airports, in a statement. “As Gatwick’s new industrial partner, Vinci Airports will support and encourage growth of traffic, operational efficiency and leverage its international expertise in the development of commercial activities to further improve passenger satisfaction and experience.”
Adebayo Ogunlesi, GIP chairman and managing partner, said: “We welcome Vinci Airports, one of the world’s most respected airport operators, as a partner in Gatwick airport. We look forward to building on the Gatwick success story together.”
“This partnership is focused on continuing the transformation at the airport over the last decade,” said Michael McGhee, a partner at GIP. “We are pleased Vinci Airports shares our vision of Gatwick’s future. We expect the transaction to be completed by the middle of next year, with the senior leadership team remaining in place. Their focus, along with everyone at Gatwick, obviously remains on doing their very best for customers over the busy holiday period after the challenges of recent days.”
Announcement of the deal was delayed by the chaos caused by three days of drone sightings at Gatwick in the run-up to Christmas. The drone sightings closed the airport’s runway, disrupting flights for 140,000 passengers. In response to the disruption, Gatwick has invested £5m in anti-drone technology.