Aussie fund to retain airports stake

The Australian Infrastructure Fund is to hold onto its 10% interest in the holding company of Melbourne Airport after previously considering selling it. The holding company was valued at A$300m in the summer.

The Australian Infrastructure Fund (AIX) is to hold onto its interest in the holding company of Melbourne Airport after previously considering selling the stake.

AIX, which is managed by the Melbourne-based Hastings Funds Management, revealed in a filing to the Australian Securities Exchange that it has discontinued the process to divest its 10.14 stake in Australia Pacific Airports (APAC), the holding company of Melbourne Airport in the state of Victoria and Launceston Airport in Tasmania.

The decision ends months of speculation that was triggered by an unknown bidder coming forward with an offer for AIX’s stake in the company in the summer. The offer was in excess of APAC’s book value, which financial advisory firm KPMG had valued at just under A$300 million (€184 million; $272 million) in June.

AIX said in the stock exchange filing that it is not proceeding with the sale as a divestment at the present time would not be “in the long-term interests of security holders”. APAC represents 21.8 percent of AIX’s portfolio value.

Despite the global downturn in airport traffic numbers, Melbourne Airport’s passenger traffic grew 2.1 percent for the full year 2008/2009, rising to just under 25,000.

Last week, Westralia Airports Corporation, the owner and operator of Perth Airport in Western Australia, raised A$882 million through a refinancing transaction to finance the expansion of the airport and refinance its existing bank debt facilities.