Manchester Airports Group significantly boosted its share of the U.K. cargo market with an agreement to buy London Stansted Airport, the nation’s third-largest freight hub, from Heathrow Airport Holdings for £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion).
Stansted, 30 miles northeast of central London, handled 214,700 tons of cargo in 2012, an increase of 5.3 percent on the previous year. It is the U.K.’s fourth-largest airport, handling nearly 18 million passengers in 2012.
Heathrow Airports Holdings, formerly known as BAA, was forced to sell Stansted by competition regulators concerned about the group’s dominant position in the U.K. airports market.
As part of the deal, Australia’s Industry Funds Management will inject new equity and take a 35.5 percent stake in the enlarged MAG.
MAG, which beat off rival bids from Macquarie, an Australian infrastructure investment bank, and Malaysia Airports Holdings, currently handles close to 500,000 tons of cargo at Manchester and East Midlands airports.
East Midlands, the U.K. hub for DHL Express and United Parcel Service, is the country’s second-largest cargo hub after London Heathrow, handling 310,000 tons of freight in 2012. Fourth-ranked Manchester in Northwest England handled 170,000 tons.
MAG recently won planning approval for a $160 million freight and logistics complex at Manchester airport, which is aiming to increase annual traffic to 250,000 tons.
London Heathrow is the largest cargo airport in the U.K. and the fourth-largest in Europe with 2012 traffic totaling 1.46 million tons.