Macquarie Airports approves A$1.5bn deal with Euro fund

The previously-announced sale of minority stakes in Copenhagen and Brussels aiports, approved by Macquarie Airports shareholders on Friday, will become the debut transaction for Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund III, a pan-European fund targeting north of €5.5bn.

The shareholders of Macquarie Airports, a Macquarie Group-managed listed fund that invests in airports globally, have approved the A$1.5 billion ($1 billion; €.5 billion) sale of airport assets to Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund III, Macquarie’s largest pan-European infrastructure investment fund.

The asset sale will include the divestment of Macquarie Airport’s 26.9 percent interest in Copenhagen Airport and 26.1 percent interest in Brussels Airport, which will leave Macquarie Airports with remaining stakes of approximately 27 percent and 36 percent in Copenhagen and Brussels, respectively, and generate premiums of 45 percent to 50 percent on their original acquisition prices.

Brussels Airport: soon to
welcome new owner

Upon completion, the sale will mark the debut transaction for the European infrastructure fund, Macquarie’s third and largest ever raised on the continent, targeting north of €5.5 billion.

Macquarie Airports plans to use the proceeds from the asset sale to fund an A$1 billion share buyback programme, which also was approved by its shareholders at the special general meeting held on Friday.

Macquarie Airports estimates that its shares are trading at a 50 percent discount to their net asset value, according to a recent investor presentation. To close this gap, the fund’s board had earlier approved a portfolio and capital review that included plans to sell minority stakes in its airports as well as a share buyback. Macquarie began raising MEIF III late last year after its second European infrastructure fund, which closed on €4.6 billion in 2005, became more than 75 percent invested. It held an initial close earlier this year.

Macquarie’s first European infrastructure fund was launched in 2004 and closed in mid-2005 on €1.5 billion.

The sale also will mark the second time this year that one of Macquarie’s listed infrastructure funds has sold its stake in existing assets to an unlisted fund in a debut transaction for the unlisted entity.

Last month, Australian Stock Exchange-listed Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group sold its 28.7 percent interest in Florida-based Global Tower Partners to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II for $363 million. MIP II is a North America-focused infrastructure fund that as of last month was one-third toward a $6 billion fundraise and had just held its first close earlier this year.

Macquarie Airports posted a net loss of $274 million for its first half to 30 June.