PAI Partners To Pay $914 Million For Swissport International

European private equity shop PAI Partners said that it will pay 654 million Euros ($914 million) to acquire passenger and handling company Swissport International AG, Reuters reported. Swissport is currently owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, which has been selling off assets in order to lighten its debt load. The Swissport deal is expected to close in early 2011. PAI Partners is based in Paris, and has offices throughout Europe.

(Reuters) – Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial is to sell ground handling company Swissport International AG to private equity firm Pai Partners for 654 million euros ($914 million).

The enterprise value of the operation is about 880 million euros, Ferrovial said on Tuesday.

The sale of Swissport, the world’s largest passenger and handling company, is part of a wide-ranging asset disposal programme by Ferrovial aimed at lightening its debt pile.

“Swissport’s good results and track record have attracted investors’ interest, offering an opportunity to execute this transaction as part of our asset rotation strategy,” chief executive Inigio Meiras said.

Last week, Ferrovial said it planned to sell a 10 percent stake in BAA, Britain’s largest airport operator, to let it cut net debt by more than half.

The Swissport transaction was expected to close by early next year, pending approval by competition authorities and Pai Partners finalising its funding structure for the acquisition.

At 0814 GMT, Ferrovial shares were down 0.6 percent, in line with the drop on the blue-chip IBEX index <.IBEX>. (Reporting by Judy MacInnes; Editing by Paul Day and Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.7158 euro)