Macquarie purchases shares in Japanese airport

A Macquarie Airports-led consortium buys 9.56% of Tokyo's domestic Haneda Airport for $165 million, marking the first Asian foray for the Australian airport operator.
Macquarie Airports announced on Friday that it is leading a consortium which has acquired a 9.56% stake in Japan Airport Terminal (JAT) for Y19.6 billion ($165.1 million). Macquarie Airports will itself own 4.79%.

JAT, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, owns and operates the three passenger terminals at Haneda Airport. Haneda is TokyoÆs domestic airport, 31 kilometres southeast of the city. Two of HanedaÆs terminals were opened fairly recently, one in 1993 and the other in 2004. Haneda also operates merchandise and food and beverage businesses at Narita, TokyoÆs international airport, and Kansai, the Osaka airport.

Haneda Airport opened in 1931 under the name Tokyo International Airport. After Narita Airport opened in 1978, Haneda became the hub for Tokyo's domestic air traffic. Haneda handles more than 60 million passengers per year, around 60% of JapanÆs domestic traffic. It is the fourth largest passenger airport in the world.

ôOur objective is to build a constructive, mutually beneficial relationship over time,ö says Kerrie Mather, CEO of Macquarie Airports in a written statement. Macquarie has acquired the shares through market purchases and funded the acquisition from cash reserves.

Macquarie Airports is a private airport owner and operator, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Its largest holding is a 72% effective interest in Sydney Airport. On July 23, Sydney Airport declared results for the financial year ended June 30, 2007, showing an 11.5% year-on-year increase in earnings driven by a 6.4% growth in passenger traffic, over the previous year.

Macquarie Airports, which has hitherto focused on non-home country investments in Europe, has a 53% stake in Copenhagen Airport, a 32% stake in Bristol Airport and a 52% stake in Brussels Airport. It recently announced agreements to sell two European airport stakes. On May 18, it said it would sell its 15.5% interest in Birmingham Airport. Then on July 19, it said it had closed a deal to sell its 34% effective stake in Rome Airport.

As air travel becomes both accessible and affordable to a larger segment of the worldÆs population, managing airports around the world is becoming an increasingly lucrative business. And operators are looking far beyond their home markets for growth.

On July 23, the directors of New ZealandÆs largest airport, Auckland International Airport, recommended shareholders accept an offer from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. DAE will acquire a controlling interest, of between 51% and 60% in the Auckland airport, in a deal which values the target at around $4.5 billion. Speculation has been rife that Macquarie Airports was a likely bidder for the airport, which is the largest airport in its closest neighbouring country. But a competing, superior offer for Auckland Airport could still be tabled, as shareholders are due to vote on the Dubai Aerospace bid in November.
¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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