Posted on Dec 28, 2018
French construction company Vinci is taking advantage of a Brexit hit to UK asset prices to buy a majority stake in Britain’s second-busiest airport, London’s Gatwick, for £2.9 billion, it was announced on Thursday (Dec 27th).
The deal to buy a 50.01% stake gives Vinci, which already runs 45 airports in 12 countries, access to the world’s largest metropolitan aviation market and is part of the company’s drive to expand its most promising businesses.
Vinci Airports President Nicolas Notebaert signalled uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union next March had cut the price of buying into Gatwick, and forecast any hit to UK economic growth after Brexit was likely to be offset by a rise in tourism due to a weaker pound.
“Just a few months ago we would not even have dreamed of being able to acquire an unlimited licence in the London airports system for less than 20 times core earnings,” he said on a conference call, referring to the price of the deal.
The acquisition, which comes just days after drone sightings caused 36 hours of chaos for more than 100,000 travellers at Gatwick is expected to close by June 2019.
Vinci currently operates airports in countries including France, Portugal, Britain, Sweden, Serbia, Cambodia, Japan, United States, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Chile and Brazil. In 2017, its network handled over 180 million passengers and earned revenue of €3.2 billion.
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