Gatwick Bidders Set To Be Assessed by Regulators

(Reuters) Potential bidders for London’s Gatwick Airport are to be assessed by Britain’s competition regulator next week on their suitability to run the country’s second-busiest airport.

A spokesman for the Competition Commission told Reuters that the three consortiums currently preparing bids for the up to 2 billion pound ($2.91 billion) asset would be judged on their expertise at running airports, ability to raise financing and their independence from current owner Ferrovial.

The meetings can take place now the Commission has officially ordered the sale of Gatwick. The regulator said in a report published on Thursday that Spain’s Ferrovial must sell three of its seven British airports, which it owns through its 2006 purchase of the British Airports Authority (BAA).

“Now that the report is out of the way, meeting the bidders can happen presently,” the spokesman said.

Ferrovial put Gatwick up for sale of its own accord in September. The three consortiums have until the end of April to submit bids.

The two confirmed bidders are: Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a fund with General Electric and Credit Suisse as founding investors that already owns London City Airport; and Citigroup unit Citi Infrastructure Investors, with Vancouver Airport Services and John Hancock Life Insurance Company, bidding jointly as Lysander Gatwick Investment Group.

In January, a person familiar with the process said a third group, made up of Manchester Airports Group and Canada’s Borealis, was also bidding.

(Reporting by John Bowker and Quentin Webb)