TPG is reported to have joined the bidding for London Stansted, the UK’s second largest cargo airport.
The U.S. private equity group is competing in the initial bidding round against a partnership between the UK’s Manchester Airport Group and Australia-based Industry Funds Management and against Macquarie, the Australian investment bank, according to the Financial Times.
BAA, now known as Heathrow Ltd, put Stansted up for sale in the summer after losing a protracted legal battle against a ruling by the UK competition regulator to dispose of three of its seven airports.
Stansted, which is expected to fetch up to $2 billion, is a growing hub for all-cargo and express carriers along with budget airlines.
The airport, which is 40 miles north east of London, grew cargo traffic by 5.2 percent in September from a year ago to 18,407 metric tons following a 13.9 percent increase in August shipments to 19,083 tons.
By contrast, the much larger Heathrow’s freight traffic rose by just 0.4 percent in August to 121,469 tons, while September volume grew 1.7 percent to 121,135 tons.
Manchester Airport Group is seen as the most likely buyer of Stansted, but TPG is also viewed as a strong contender, as its co-founder David Bonderman, who engineered the buyout of Continental Airways 20 years ago, chairs the board of Irish budget airline Ryanair, Stansted’s biggest customer.
BAA sold London Gatwick airport for $1.55 billion in 2009 to New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners which also acquired the group’s Edinburgh airport for $1.2 billion in April.