OMERS airports sale gives Vinci exposure to US market

The French firm has acquired the Canadian pension’s Airports Worldwide platform, growing its European portfolio in the sector and entering the US air transport sector.

Canadian pension fund OMERS has sold its interest in a company that manages 12 US, Central American and European airports to Vinci Airports, which gained its first exposure to the US market through the deal.

OMERS Infrastructure Management, an investment division of the C$95 billion ($74.1 billion; €60.56 billion) Ontario-based pension, exited its investment in Airports Worldwide after launching the platform company in 2009, along with two airport developers.

“We have focused our efforts since that time on positioning the asset for long-term success, and are very proud of the value we have created with this investment for OMERS members,” Ralph Berg, global head of infrastructure at OMERS private markets, said in a statement.

An OMERS spokesman would not disclose financial details of the transaction or how large of an interest it sold in Airports Worldwide, a portfolio OMERS helped build, along with HAS Development Corporation, an affiliate of the Houston Airport System, and Canada-based Airport Development Corporation.

The sale does not completely end OMERS’ exposure to the airport sector. In 2016, OMERS joined a group of investors, including other Canadian pensions, to fully purchase London City Airport from Global Infrastructure Partners and Highstar Capital.

For Vinci Airports, the transaction adds nine new airports and three partial management contracts to its portfolio, including a 100 percent stake in Belfast International Airport, a 90.1 percent stake in Skvasta Airport in Sweden and 100 percent of the concession to operate Florida’s Orlando Sanford Airport, assets Airport Worldwide acquired from TBI for €284 million in July 2013. That transaction also included 100 percent of TBI Airport Management, which has operating contracts for various airports throughout the US.

The Airports Worldwide portfolio Vinci Airports acquired also has full ownership of a concession agreement for Orlando-Sanford International Airport, as well as a 48.75 percent and 45 percent stake in concessions in two Costa Rican facilities.

Through this deal, Vinci Airports, a subsidiary of French concessions and construction company Vinci, has not only gained a foothold in the US air transportation market, but it has also boosted its global portfolio to 45 airports in Europe, North and South America and increased the number of passengers using its assets by 25.6 million to more than 182 million a year.

This deal follows Vinci Airports’ €1.2 billion deal in January to acquire a 25-year concession agreement for Serbia’s Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade. VINCI Airports paid €501 million for the concession and said it would invest €732 million over the course of the contract.