Bridgepoint cleared for landing at Leeds-Bradford

Buyout firm Bridgepoint Capital has emerged as the preferred bidder for UK-based Leeds Bradford Airport. Its offer, which according to reports is worth about £130 million, has trumped that of four other bidders.

European private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital has been named as the preferred bidder in the £130 million (€192 million; $256 million) auction for Leeds-Bradford Airport in the UK.

The Leeds and Bradford councils, which each own 40 percent of the airport, and the three other West Yorkshire councils said Bridgepoint was the preferred buyer for the business following the final round of bids in the auction.

The buyout firm is thought to have offered between £130 million and £140 million (million and €206 million, and $276 million) for Leeds-Bradford, according to the Financial Times, which would value the airport at between 27 and 29 times its 2006 earnings before income, tax, depreciation and amortization.

Barclays Private Equity, which is acting in conjunction with Churchill Airports, has been named as the reserve bidder. Both groups now have six working days to confirm their offers.

The airport put itself up for sale in November, and in March asked five preferred bidders to submit offers.

The other three interested parties were all infrastructure businesses: ABN AMRO’s infrastructure fund bid in tandem with airport management company Faros Investment Partners, while UK company Balfour Beatty and Spanish group TBI also submitted offers.

Bridgepoint’s previous investments in the sector include the 1997 acquisition of a 24 percent stake in Birmingham International Airport. The firm sold its stake to Australian bank Macquarie in 2001 for £84 million.