Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing is understood to be among the suitors shortlisted for the acquisition of London City Airport. Estimated at about £2bn (€2.6bn, $2.9bn), this week will see the final bids from Li Ka-Shing's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI) and four other suitors for the airport located close to the Canary Wharf and the Square Mile.
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the American private equity company, is the current owner of London City Airport. It had purchased the airport 10 years ago from Irish entrepreneur Dermot Desmond for about £750m.
In August 2015, GIP put the airport up for sale, receiving interest from several companies. In November 2015, GIP along with Credit Suisse, the Switzerland-based investment bank appointed for the sale of this airport, shortlisted the interested companies to a final list of five suitors. This was done on the basis of the indicative offers submitted by them.
Among these suitors, one is understood to be a large consortium, which includes the Kuwait Investment Authority, the state-owned sovereign fund; Borealis Infrastructure, the Canadian pension fund; AIMCo, an American investment management company; British investor Hermes and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. HNA, the Chinese aviation company, is supposed to be one of the remaining three shortlisted bidders.
While a deadline for acquisition offers for the airport is set to end this week, the sale in itself has triggered concerns for airline companies operating there. British Airways and CityJet fear that the estimated £2bn price tag will make the new owners increase airport charges, according to The Telegraph.
Earlier this month, British Airways, the largest airline based at the terminal, had threatened to pull out most of its flights from the airport. Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, the parent company of BA, told the Financial Times that he had serious concerns over the selling price which would amount to a multiple of 44 times London City's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in 2014. "If the owners succeed in selling this for £2bn, we cannot see how a buyer will be able to recover or make any return on that investment unless they make significant increase in airport charges," Walsh had said