DAE explores acquisitions in E. Europe

DUBAI — Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), Dubai's $15 billion aviation investment group that agreed to buy Auckland International Airport, is reportedly exploring an airport project in Europe as it sets out to build an international network.

By Issac John (Deputy Business Editor)

Published: Sun 29 Jul 2007, 8:59 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:23 PM

"There will be something in Europe," Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of DAE, was quoted by Business Intelligence Middle East (BI-ME ).

DAE, formed last year with a goal of becoming a $15 billion airport and aviation services company, agreed in April to buy two US aviation-maintenance companies from Carlyle Group for $1.8 billion, and last week agreed to buy a controlling stake in Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL), New Zealand's main gateway, for as much as NZ$2.6 billion ($2.1 billion).

"If Dubai's looking at Western Europe, I would expect their focus to be on the UK or Germany, perhaps Ireland and Spain as an outside bet,'' Doug McVitie, Managing Director of consulting firm Arran Aerospace, was quoted by BI-ME in an interview from France. "In the East, there's opportunity in new secondary airports that carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet are looking at.''

According to BI-ME, Macquarie Airports, Australia's biggest airfields owner, last month agreed to sell its 45 per cent stake in Aeroporti di Roma to Gemini for almost three times what it paid in 2003. Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Australia's Victorian Funds Management Corp. in May agreed to pay $836 million for 48 per cent of Birmingham International Airport.

"Other acquisition targets in France, where apart from Aeroports de Paris, all airports are in public or municipal ownership, and other airport targets in Western Europe are quite scarce. The most likely candidates for DAE's spending spree would be Prague

Ruzyne Airport (where regional decentralisation is smoothing the transition path for the Czech hub) or Warsaw International Airport where a privatisation has been rumoured for several years," the report said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Press Association report said DAE's bid for AIAL was aimed at establishing a secondary hub for airline Emirates.

"Merger documents show DAE has pledged to use 'reasonable endeavours' to create new routes and services to Auckland for Emirates," the report said.

"DAE doesn't have a shareholding in Dubai-based Emirates, which flies four times daily to Auckland, but it is chaired by Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who also chairs Emirates," the report said.

The NZPA report quoted Kjeld Binger, DAE's chief executive of the airports division, as saying that DAE would overcome the airport's present weak point in route development. "As well as expanding the airport, it would enhance traffic into the gateway through working proactively with airlines to promote the airport," Binger said.

DAE sees Auckland as the first in a portfolio of airports the company plans to own and build up around the world, but particular in emerging markets in China, India and the Middle East, Binger said. Auckland will be the South Pacific hub because of Australian laws forbidding foreign control of major airports.

More news from Business