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Macquarie, Ferrovial buy three UK airports for £1bn

The companies have formed a 50:50 partnership to purchase Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton Airports from Heathrow Airport Holdings.

Australian fund manager Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) and Spanish developer Ferrovial have bought three UK airports from Heathrow Airports Holdings.

The transaction, expected to close no later than January 2015, will see both companies pay £1.048 billion (€1.313 billion; $1.679 billion) for Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton Airports. These will continue to be managed locally, with Peter Mason, chairman of Thames Water and chief executive of AMEC, appointed chair of the group upon completion of the deal.

Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton respectively rank as the eighth, 14th and 18th largest airports in the UK with about 7.3 million, 3.4 million and 1.7 million passengers in 2013 respectively. Glasgow serves more than 100 destinations, while Aberdeen and Glasgow operate more than 40 routes.

“They are great airports and we are proud of their achievements,” said John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow. “This sale enables us to focus on improving Heathrow for passengers and winning support for Heathrow expansion.”

Macquarie will be investing via Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 4 (MEIF4), a vehicle it closed in 2013 on €2.75 billion. Other investments made by the fund include German gas network Open Grid Europe and Czech counterpart Czech Gas Networks.

Last September, Macquarie sold its 50 percent stake in Bristol Airport to Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, now sole owner of the asset, for £250 million. The firm, via MEIF and MEIF3, remains a shareholder in Brussels and Copenhagen Airports.