Airports stake for Future Fund

THE Future Fund has swooped on a listed fund manager with plans to take off with a direct stake in several Australian airports. The government-owned investment fund surprised the market yesterday with news it was in talks for all the assets in Australian Infrastructure Fund. The fund, which trades as AIX, owns a minority stake in Perth Airport, Melbourne Airport, three regional Queensland airports, Northern Territory Airports, Hochtief Airport Capital and the M4 motorway in Sydney. Hochtief has a stake in airports in Sydney, Athens, Dusseldorf and Hamburg.
Nanjing Night Net

AIX units jumped to a five-year high of $3.26 before settling to close up 17.4 per cent at $3.11.

The Future Fund has signed a memorandum of understanding to buy all the assets for $2 billion, a premium on the $1.8 billion valuation that AIX puts on its own assets.

AIX chairman Paul Espie said the board had agreed to proceed with the offer.

”Ultimately, AIX would finish up as a cash box and the intention is to distribute that cash to our unit holders on the most efficient basis – tax and other issues considered – and thereafter collapse and wind up the corporate structure of AIX. This will take some months,” he said.

Mr Espie said that AIX might still consider a higher offer, but under the memorandum of understanding it would have to pay certain costs and possibly a break fee.

Unit holders will have pre-emptive rights to increase their stake, leaving the possibility that the Future Fund will get less than 100 per cent.

The Future Fund already owns 16.8 per cent of Australian Pacific Airports Corporation, which runs Melbourne and Launceston airports. The AIX takeover will increase its stake to 43 per cent.

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