IFM eyes Vienna Airport stake

The Australian manager is ready to spend as much as €502m for up to 29.9% of the Austria-listed company.

IFM Investors this week announced plans to buy a significant minority stake in Flughafen Wien, the company that operates Vienna Airport, in what could be the second-largest airport deal of the year.

The Melbourne-headquartered firm, which would invest via its Global Infrastructure Fund, is looking to spend as much as €502 million for up to 29.9 percent of the Vienna-listed business via a public voluntary offer. It plans to offer €80 a share, a 30 percent premium from last week’s closing price.

The deal will only go ahead if IFM gets at least a 20 percent stake, according to the firm. It also said it has no plans to buy more than 29.9 percent of the company.

The largest shareholders in Flughafen Wien are the City of Vienna and the province of Lower Austria, where the hub is located. Each hold 20 percent of the company, while an employee trust also owns 10 percent. Half of Vienna Airport's issued shares are free float.

The transaction wouldn’t be IFM’s first in the sector. The firm already owns a 35.5 percent interest in Manchester Airport Group, which acquired London’s Stansted Airport in 2013. It also holds stakes in Australian terminals including Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide Airports.