Infratil sells Kent airport for £1

The disposal comes a week after the New Zealand investment fund divested Glasgow Prestwick Airport to the Scottish government.

Infratil, an investment fund listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, has sold Manston Airport.

The airport will be acquired by Lothian Shelf, a company owned by British entrepreneur Ann Gloag, for £1 (€1.2; $1.6). It is based in Kent, south-east England.

Gloag is the co-founder of Stagecoach, a London-listed transport operator. “I believe there is real potential for growth that has not been fully captured,” she said in a statement. “Having worked in the transport industry for over 30 years, I believe I am very well placed to help maximise opportunities for both freight and passengers at Manston.”

The settlement also includes adjustments for working capital and cash injected by Infratil between 14 October and the completion date, which the firm said would happen on 29 November this year. These are expected to be worth around £350,000.

The deal comes less than a week after Infratil sold Glasgow Prestwick to the Scottish government. The firm had been looking to divest both assets since March last year, but struggled to find private investors willing to take them over. The Scottish government found itself forced to step in to avoid 3,200 jobs being lost, it said in a statement.

Infratil acquired Prestwick for £33.4 million in 2001 from Stagecoach. The airport has a terminal capacity of 3 million passengers, and hosts two low-cost airlines, Ryanair and Wizz. It has since seen its traffic dwindle in recent years as Ryanair moved much of its business to Edinburgh airport.

A similar blow was dealt to Manston last year, when airline Flybe decided to ceasing operating from the airport. Part of Infratil’s portfolio since 2005, it has a capacity of 700,000 passengers a year.

Infratil was one of the world’s first listed infrastructure funds when it floated on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in 1994. It owns a 66.7 percent stake in Wellington Airport and is also an active investor in energy, public transport and real estate. It is managed by Morrison & Co, a Wellington-based firm.

The sale of Manston and Prestwick come as Infratil seeks to refocus its portfolio and improve cash flows. The fund expects to impair these assets by £11 million in its financial statements for the half-year ending 30 September 2013.