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BAA wins appeal against sale of UK airports

BAA has won an appeal against a Competition Commission ruling that it must sell three of its British airports, including Stansted and Gatwick.

BAA, which has won appeal against a ruling that it have to sell three British airports, has already sold Gatwick.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld BAA’s claim over bias. BAA argued that a member of the Competition Commission panel that recommended the break-up of the airport portfolio should have pulled out of the process earlier.

Peter Moizer was one of the Competition Commission’s panel members but was also an adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which was backing a proposed bid for Gatwick by the Manchester Airports Group. He did eventually step down from the investigation, but the CAT has deemed he did not do so early enough. However, CAT said it had reached this conclusion with the “greatest reluctance”.

BAA had protested that the competition inquiry was “riven through with an acute and intolerable conflict of interest” because of Professor Moizer’s involvement. However, the tribunal rejected a claim that the Competition Commission had not properly taken into account the effect the recession on the sale of the airports. BAA has already sold Gatwick for £1.5bn to the Global Infrastructure Partners in an effort to pay down debt, but was concerned about a firesale of other assets given the muted economic environment.

The Competition Commission ruled in March that BAA should sell-off three of the seven airports it owns across Britain, including London’s Gatwick and Stansted, and Edinburgh or Glasgow in Scotland, within two years. It said that BAA’s control of airports in London and Scotland was detrimental to customer service for passengers and airlines.
BAA is owned by Ferrovial, the Spanish construction group.