Hodgkinson to head up BAA

THE NEW chief executive of BAA, Mike Hodgkinson, said yesterday that it would be "not unhelpful" if the Government gave up its golden share in the airports group, which protects it from takeover, writes Michael Harrison.

Mr Hodgkinson, who takes over from Sir John Egan in October, also set out plans for an aggressive expansion of BAA's overseas airport business and said he had no concerns that its monopoly over Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted might be broken up.

He said BAA aimed to add another one or two overseas airport management contracts a year to its existing portfolio of six. In the UK, the strategy would be to expand its seven airports to keep pace with passenger growth of 4-5 per cent a year.

Mr Hodgkinson said that if the Government agreed to the European Commission's demands for an end to the golden share, which limits a single investor to a 15 per cent holding, it would help liquidity in BAA shares.

A former Rover and Grand Metropolitan executive, Mr Hodgkinson, 55, joined BAA in 1992 as group airports director. He is understood to have beaten off competition from two chief executives of FTSE 100 companies for the top job.