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S. Korea operator mulls bid to buy London airport

15 may 2012, 17:43
South Korea's main airport operator is interested in buying London's Stansted from the British Airports Authority in a bid to expand overseas business, AFP reports citing an official.

State-owned Incheon International Airport Corp is "watching with interest" Stansted as well as Glasgow airport, the Incheon official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"We also have an interest in other British airports to be put up for sale in the near future," he said, adding no specific plans had been made yet including how to finance a potential bid.

Britain's Competition Commission in 2009 ordered BAA, owned by Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial, to offload London's Gatwick and Stansted airports as well as either Edinburgh or Glasgow to meet anti-competition requirements.

BAA has subsequently sold Gatwick and Edinburgh airports to US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners. In February it lost an appeal against the order to sell Stansted.

The Korea Economic Daily reported Monday that Incheon was in talks with companies such as JP Morgan Asset Management for a potential joint bid for Stansted or Glasgow.

Incheon airport has been seeking to expand its overseas businesses which accounted for less than one percent of its total revenue of 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion) last year.

"Our overseas business since 2009 is only in its infancy. We're mulling various plans to develop it including buying stakes in foreign airports or construction of (new airports)," the airport official told AFP.

Incheon, South Korea's biggest aviation hub, handled about 35 million passengers last year and has several times been rated the world's best airport by the Airports Council International.

Stansted is Britain's fourth busiest airport, handling 18.3 million passengers a year.

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