Brussels Airport: A Takeover Target Following Macquarie’s Disposal Agreement With OTPP?

In 2017, the Macquarie Group appointed JP Morgan to market its 36% stake in the Brussels Airport Company, the operator of Brussels Airport. Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) was reported to be interested in the stake. OTPP has pre-emptive rights to acquire the 36% stake, as OTPP owns 39% of Brussels Airport since Dec-2014. However, OTPP and Macquarie were reported to be in dispute regarding information sharing for other prospective bidders for Macquarie’s stake. The Belgian State holds 25%, since 2011.

The sale effort was prompted by the maturation of the infrastructure fund, MEIF1, one of two funds that comprise Macquarie’s 36% (the other is MEIF3, which was closed to new investors in 2010), and of which Brussels Airport is the last remaining asset. The intention of Macquarie was to put the stake up for auction if the sale fell through.

Now, in week commencing 09 July 2018, OTPP and Macquarie are reported to have settled their legal dispute over Brussels Airport, allowing the sale of the transport hub to go ahead after the 2018 summer period.

OTTP is believed to have given up its pre-emption rights over the asset and agreed to information being circulated to potential buyers of Macquarie’s stake, though it is not known what conditions the Australian investor met in return. It wanted Macquarie to provide limited information to prospective bidders as this may give a competitive advantage to those taking part in the initial stages of the process.

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