Bridgepoint exits Birmingham Airport

The £84m deal makes it 47 realisations in 18 months for the firm, and over $1bn returned to investors.

Bridgepoint Capital, the European buyout firm, has sold its 24 per cent stake in Birmingham Airport Holdings Limited (BAHL) to the Macquarie Airports Group (MAG) for £84m, tripling its initial investment in the business. The firm had first bought into BAHL in February 1997 alongside Aer Rianta.

The deal, subject to conditions and expected to complete next year, makes it 47 realisations in 18 months for Bridgepoint, which has returned more than $1bn to investors during the period, according to a spokesman for the group. Exits include the £255m sale of Principal Hotels to Nomura, the £110m sale of Healthcall to Nestor Healthcare Group, the $68m sale of Sealine to Brunswick Corporation and the £45m sale of Lee Cooper to Matalan.

For MAG, it is the second investment in a UK airport. The private equity fund, set up in August by the international investment bank and advisory group Macquarie Bank, already owns 50 per cent in Bristol International Airport.

MAG is being advised by Macquarie’s corporate and structured finance division. Bridgepoint is working with Hawkpoint Partners.

Birmingham International Airport is the UK’s fifth largest airport serving around 7.6m people a year and with annual passenger growth of nearly 28 per cent. MAG chairman Anthony Kahn commented: “The European aviation sector represents very good prospects for investors looking for attractive growth infrastructure opportunities. Our outlook remains extremely positive for regional airports to benefit from increases in passenger growth,” he said.

MAG is currently fundraising and has had a first closing at E365m. The fund is aiming to get to a final closing at E600m next year.

Australia-based Macquarie currently has around £10bn in infrastructure projects across Europe and Australia including the Birmingham Northern Relief Road. In October 2000, it bought the UK-based airport advisory business, The Portland Group.