A company that supplies baggage handling and aircraft parking services to Birmingham International Airport has changed hands in a £438 million deal.
Swissport International, which works at more than 170 airports throughout the world, is being sold by private equity group Candover to Spanish company Ferrovial, it was announced yesterday .
Ferrovial, which owns support services group Amey, already manages Bristol and Belfast airports. It said the deal would bolster its position in services work, where it generated revenues of more than £1.5 billion in 2004.
In the UK, it will acquire full ground handling operations, such as baggage handling and aircraft parking services, at Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Gatwick and Stansted as part of the deal.
Since Candover led the £266 million management buyout of the business in February 2002, Swissport has picked up cargo handling business CSC and Groundstar, the UK's leading handler of low-cost airlines.
The group now employs a total of 21,000 people and generated turnover 1.3 billion Swiss francs (£568.5 million) in 2004.
Candover director Charlie Green said Swissport had been an "excellent investment" and generated a return of 2.6 times the original cost.
He added: "Under our ownership, the company has played a leading role in the consolidation of the global aviation services industry and has grown sales by 25 per cent
"I have every confidence that the business will continue its growth and development under Ferrovial's ownership."
The deal, which is subject to competition and regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of September.
It marks a further phase of Ferrovial's move into the airport sector. The Spanish company and a private equity group controlled by Macquarie Bank of Australia is bidding to take control of Exeter Airport.
Also, Ferrovial, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, is one of nine groups to have put forward indicative bids for the privatisation of Budapest Airport in Hungary.
Ferrovial is the largest construction group in Spain and announced net income for 2004 of 556.8 million euros (£386 million), an increase of 63.5 per cent. The UK accounted for more than half of international sales.