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Global Infrastructure Partners (owners of Gatwick Airport)
Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) is 42% owned by GIP I, a private equity fund managed by Global Infrastructure Partners who specialise in businesses in industries such as transport and energy and many of whose senior management team have backgrounds in either investment bank Credit Suisse or the US-based industrial conglomerate, GE. GIP manages the fund on behalf of the fund’s investors (known as Limited Partners, or LPs) which include CS and GE (each with 9% of the fund size). GE and CS are understood to part-own GIP, the management company, also GIP has three (non-exec) seats on the GAL board. The other 58% of GAL is held by minority co-investors Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (a sovereign wealth fund), National pension Fund of Korea, CalPERS (a US state pension fund) and Australian state pension entity, Future Fund.
Private equity (PE) funds typically buy undervalued businesses and hold them for between 3 – 7 years, until value improves or business improvements or strategic acquisitions and disposals are undertaken. GIP has not indicated any ultimate intention for its residual stake in GAL, and, given the nature of the business, a longer-than-normal ownership period seems plausible. However, the fund’s LPs will want to see a return at some point and, conceivably, GIP could eventually sell its stake to its co-investors.
Often PE funds finance a significant part of the business they are acquiring with debt which gets loaded into the target upon acquisition. This appears to be the case with GAL which has approx. £1.5bn of bonds issued since 2011, seemingly to refinance bank debt from the 2009 acquisition.
The Airports Commission
Background Document – Airports Commission
The Airports Commission is an independent body charged with examining the need for additional airport capacity and recommending to government how that need can be met in the short, medium and long term. It works within the Department for Transport.
The Board – Sir Howard Davies (Chairman), Professor Ricky Burdett (possibly interesting in terms of someone to approach directly as his expertise is in the interaction between social and physical worlds and how urbanisation affects social and environmental sustainability), Professor Dame Julia King, Vivienne Cox, Sir John Armitt.
The Airports Commission is currently reviewing consultations and is responsible for a final report to government in the summer of 2015 assessing the environmental, economic and social costs and benefits of various solutions to increasing airport capacity. It is expected to produce its latest interim statement at the end of October.
The following has been extracted from the Government website:-
“The commission’s role will be to identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term whilst maintaining a UK-wide perspective. The commission will need to ensure it undertakes a thorough assessment of all the issues by considering all relevant factors including the economic, environmental and social costs and benefits and where necessary, the operational and technical deliverability. In carrying out its work, the commission should consider all factors relevant to a thorough assessment of relevant options, including environmental, economic and social costs and benefits, and, where necessary, operational, commercial and technical viability. The Commission will take a UK-wide perspective, taking appropriate account of the national, regional and local implications of any proposals.”
Particular statements that are relevant to the HWCAAG’s policies
The 2012 document Promoting Sustainable Aviation (author Robert Goodwill MP) states “we will take into account the impact of noise on people living near airports and seek to balance the economic benefits of the airport with environmental and local impact.”
The need to make many modernisations are mentioned in this document – and in the series of documents called the Red Tape Challenge – but all seem to concern reducing the red tape for the aviation industry – nothing about modernising the way in which impact on the community could be assessed or improved in the same way eg the modification to the Airbus A320 to reduce the noise would be an obvious candidate and improved ways of measuring noise.
Airports Commission Interim Report: Delivery of New Runway Capacity – Discussion Paper 07, July 2014. This document sets out some of the areas that are being looked at but does not pre-empt the recommendations – it shows the range of issues being considered and responses were invited until August 2014. There are two especially relevant topics within Section 3 Local Communities – one on “Engagement” and one on “Noise”.
Engagement: One of the most relevant and interesting areas addressed here is how other countries deal with the conflicts between airport expansion and local communities, eg The French example – ACNUSA (Autorite de Controle des Nuisances Aeroportuaires) is an independent authority that takes responsibility for noise and other environmental impacts. It operates a fine system for infringement of slot allocation and noise (40,000 euro a time) and it has a noise exposure and disturbance map that is used for any planning. It also works on establishing openness and trust between the airport and community.
Noise: The Airport Commission “recognises that night flying can be among the most annoying and harmful for local residents”.
There are many encouraging signs that the Airports Committee is taking account of the impact of any increase in airport capacity on local communities, however they are also balanced by an overwhelming acceptance that the growth of airport capacity is seen as an economic necessity for the UK. Given that so many examples of improved policing of noise, acknowledgement of the severe disturbance caused by night flights and the need to mitigate and compensate local residents – it seems there is plenty of ammunition already published by the commission to fight any action that failed to take account of these factors.
- Initial Release (02.06.2014): HWPCAAG draft policy document 29.05.14