Qatar Buys Stake in Heathrow Owner for 900 Million Pounds

Qatar Buys Stake in Heathrow Owner BAA for 900 Million Pounds
Qatar Holding LLC , the investment arm of the Middle East country’s sovereign-wealth fund, agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in Heathrow airport owner BAA Ltd. for 900 million pounds ($1.4 billion). Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Qatar Holding LLC, the investment arm of the Middle East country’s sovereign-wealth fund, agreed to pay 900 million pounds ($1.4 billion) for a 20 percent stake in BAA Ltd., which owns London’s Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest hub.

Qatar Holding will acquire a 10.62 percent stake in FGP Topco Ltd., BAA’s parent company, from Ferrovial SA for 478 million pounds, the Spanish infrastructure company said in a statement today. Qatar Holding also agreed to buy a 5.63 percent stake from Britannia Airport Partners and 3.75 percent from GIC Special Investments Pte Ltd., according to the statement.

“The sale of this stake in BAA is part of Ferrovial’s strategy of establishing a market valuation of our assets and improving the structure of our investment portfolio,” Ferrovial Chief Executive Officer Inigo Meiras said in the statement.

Qatar uses wealth accumulated from the world’s third-largest gas reserves to acquire regional and European assets. Qatar Holding bought Harrods Ltd. in 2010, and the sovereign wealth fund has taken an 11.6 percent stake in Swiss miner Xstrata Plc.

The deal is pending regulatory approval and is expected to be closed by year end, Ferrovial said. The transaction will help the Madrid-based company boost liquidity and gain “flexibility to undertake investments in infrastructure and services projects,” it said. Barclays Plc advised Qatar on the deal, a spokesman for the London-based bank said via e-mail.

“Even though Ferrovial wasn’t as highly leveraged as other construction companies such as ACS or Sacyr, the deal makes perfect sense as BAA is a very liquid asset and helps the Spanish firm boost its financial structure,” Francisco Salvador, a Madrid-based analyst at FGA/MG Valores, said by phone.

Ferrovial shares climbed 5.9 percent to 9.56 euros at the close of trading in Madrid, valuing the company at 7 billion euros ($8.62 billion).

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