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Confusion reigns over troubled Gatwick sale

The Gatwick sale descended into farce yesterday as airport-owner BAA denied claims that the two remaining bidders had pulled out of the £1.5bn race.

Sources claim both Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and the Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) consortium have walked away. But a spokesman for BAA said yesterday: "There are multiple bidders still in the process."

A third interested party - the Lysander consortium led by Citigroup - was kicked out of the bidding in May, allegedly for putting too low a price tag on the airport. But both the MAG group, which included the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and Canada’s Borealis, and GIP, a joint venture between Credit Suisse and General Electric, were thought to be pitching up to £1.4bn, still lower than the £1.5bn regulated asset value.

BAA put Gatwick up for sale last autumn to pre-empt its forced sale at the behest of the Competition Commission. In February, the Commission ruled the company must sell both Gatwick and Stanstead, and one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, to redress its monopolistic position.