James Ashton: Qataris know that Heathrow is what really matters to BAA
Outlook Those Qataris must know something we don't. Only a day or so ago, they laid out £900m for a fifth of BAA, the owner of Heathrow. No sooner is the ink dry than BAA has thrown in the towel on its bid to hang onto Stansted airport, which it was ordered to sell by the Competition Commission three years ago.
Coincidence? Very probably. The loss of Stansted was baked into the price, after all. Not only did most people think BAA was fighting a losing battle, but Stansted, the bane of flustered low-cost travellers lives', is a declining asset anyway as consumers take fewer short breaks.
Yet it is hard to see this as anything but a blow, however anticipated, coming hard on the heels of sell-offs of Gatwick and Edinburgh. Selling assets when prices are depressed is never a good sign.
The BAA boss Colin Matthews has been putting a brave face on the slow dismemberment of his empire ever since he took the reins in 2008. After stints at Hays and water firm Severn Trent, he's used to carving up businesses, just at his own pace.
He knows the crown jewel of BAA has always been Heathrow. Everything else –Southampton, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and yes, even Stansted – is window dressing. That reasoning is what drove the Qatari investment too.
More important is getting a good outcome from the debate over the future of London's airport capacity, which has been kicked into autumn by the Government who seem hell-bent on excluding a third runway at Heathrow from the options that should be put on the table.
Mr Matthews' new backers obviously believe he has plenty to gain, and his arm was strengthened after the comings and goings of legions of Olympic athletes passed off without a hitch.
- 1 Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
General Election 2015: Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind as he casts a line to the disaffected of Grimsby
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...