Cash boost if bid to buy Stansted Airport takes off
9:40am Sunday 29th July 2012 in Local
Bolton Council could be in line for a financial boost if a company it part-owns pushes through plans to buy a major international airport.
The Bolton News reported in February how Manchester Airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) was eyeing expansion plans.
MAG is a holding company owned by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), which is composed of the 10 Greater Manchester borough councils, including Bolton.
MAG expressed an interest in buying a new airport, with Edinburgh and Stansted both in its sights, but Edinburgh was offloaded to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in April.
In 2009, Stansted’s owner, British Airports Authority (BAA), had been ordered to offer it and two other airports for sale by the Competition Commission, but lodged an appeal.
Its attempt to overturn the decision has now been thrown out by the Court of Appeal in a move that puts the Essex airport on the market.
Before MAG can buy a new airport it needs to raise capital by creating new shares to entice private investors, but first it must change its governance arrangements — a decision which all 10 authorities must agree to, with Bolton being the first to give the plan the seal of approval.
Bolton Council owns a five per cent stake in MAG.
A joint statement by MAG and AGMA said: “MAG is pursuing two key recommendations.
“One is to explore the opportunity to add a quality airport to the group, and the other is to bring in new equity investment as part of the deal.”
In 2011 Stansted was the fourth busiest airport in the UK after Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
Bolton received a £1 million dividend from its share in MAG last year.
The money was used for a range of schemes, such as subsidising school meals prices and giving £10,000 to each local area forum Bolton Council chief executive Sean Harriss said: “This increases the possibility of Manchester Airport being in a position to make a bid, which the council is supportive of, and will bring potential benefits to Bolton.”
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