An agreement for the sale of George Best Belfast City Airport could see significant investment as it emerged that British private equity and venture capital company 3i Group has reached a deal with current owners Eiser Infrastructure Partners.
The airport forms part of a portfolio of investments including Italian gas transporter and electricity network provider East Surrey Pipelines, and two bus terminal interchanges in the Spanish capital Madrid.
The sale price has not been disclosed, but 3i said that £700 million would be made available for the initial acquisition and to “provide capital for a number of significant follow-on investments across the portfolio,” should the deal be approved .
The airport, which carried 2.7 million passengers last year and reported a 40% rise in revenues for a profit of £3.3 milion, was valued at around £130m when it was sold by Spanish owner Ferrovial in 2008.
The airport suffered a serious blow in 2010 when budget flyer Ryanair pulled out citing too long a delay in extending the runway.
However the business was buoyed by the arrival in 2012 of Aer Lingus and is home to Flybe as well as British Airways and KLM.
There has been no comment on the acquisition from the airport’s management but in a statment EISER said it would work with 3i towards an expected financial completion of the transaction in the firt quarter of 2017.
The transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approval from the European Commission under EU merger regulations.