The London City Airport has been sold to a large consortium. At a price of £2bn (€2.5bn, $2.8bn), the new owners include the Kuwait Investment Authority, a state-owned sovereign fund; Borealis Infrastructure, the Canadian pension fund; AIMCo, an American investment management company; Wren House, an infrastructure investment vehicle owned by the sovereign wealth fund of Kuwait and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the American private equity company who sold this airport, had purchased it about 10 years ago from Irish entrepreneur Dermot Desmond for about £750m. In August 2015, they put it 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 of which this consortium was one. Some of the other suitors included Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing and HNA, the Chinese aviation company.
The sale follows Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, the parent company of British Airways (BA), expressing concerns over the £2bn valuation earlier this month. Calling it a "foolish price", he had feared that the high price tag could force its new owners to raise landing fees. "Quite honestly, the margins we make at London City would not support any increase in charges," Walsh had then said, before threatening to pull out BA's aircrafts if the new owners do so.
This is not the first airport asset for the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, whose portfolio includes five European airports, including Bristol and Birmingham. "We own four airports, so why wouldn't we look at London City Airport?" Jo Taylor, Teachers' European head, had told the Financial Times in 2015. The Canadian Teachers' fund also owns other transportation assets, such as the high-speed rail link between London and the Channel tunnel and the National Lottery's operator.
The airport being close to the Canary Wharf financial district has made it a preferred airport for business travellers, who account for the majority of its traffic. Despite the financial crisis, the passenger traffic at this airport has doubled from 2 million in 2005 to an estimated 4.2 million in 2015.