UNITED ARAB EMIRATES/UK - Abu Dhabi's state investment authority has confirmed it has become a minority shareholder of Gatwick airport.
The investment is thought to be for about 15% of the UK's second busiest airport valued at about £125m (US$195.7m), but Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) would not confirm the size or value of the stake.
It marks the second disposal by Gatwick's New York-based private equity owner in a week and comes days after Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) agreed to sell a 12% holding in the airport to South Korea's pension fund. (Global Pensions; February 3, 2010)
The disposals were part of plans announced after GIP completed its £1.51bn purchase of Gatwick from BAA last October, but earlier in the week GIP said it would remain the majority shareholder of Gatwick.
The ADIA, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, tends to invest purely for financial reasons, without seeking any special rights of ownership or management control in the firms it invests.
Gatwick has suffered from a drop in international travel over the past few years as household budgets were squeezed during the recession.
The airport reported a 5.3% drop in passenger figures in 2009, compared with the year before.
But Abu Dhabi and South Korea seem to be betting on a rebound in air travel as the economic outlook picks up.
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