BAA loses court battle on sale of UK airports

By Rhys Jones and Caroline Copley

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – BAA will have to break up its network of British airports after Britain’s Court of Appeal on Wednesday overruled a previous decision in BAA’s favor.

BAA, owned by Spain’s Ferrovial (FER.MC: ), will have to dispose of Stansted airport northeast of London and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports in Scotland within two years, after the court said an original ruling by the Competition Commission had not been influenced by bias.

BAA said in a statement on Wednesday it was disappointed by the ruling and would be seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

However, Juan Moreno, an analyst at Mirabaud Finanzas, said he thought BAA had exhausted most direct appeal options. “BAA’s main objective with these appeals was to buy time, which they’ve achieved,” he said.

Late last year BAA, which also owns London’s Heathrow airport, won an appeal against the Competition Commission, opening the door for fresh talks on a decision that its control of Britain’s airports should be broken up.

BAA argued that the Commission’s March ruling had been influenced by bias, which was upheld by the tribunal.

The Competition Commission welcomed the ruling and said it strove to keep its investigations impartial.

BAA sold Gatwick, London’s second busiest airport, to Global Infrastructure Partners for 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) last October.

Shares in Ferrovial in Madrid, which have risen a third in the past three months, were flat at 7.5 euros by 1110 GMT.

(Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Madrid; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and David Holmes)

($1=.6286 Pound)

BAA loses court battle on sale of UK airports