Court of Appeal tells BAA to sell Stansted and a Scottish airport
Thursday 14 October 2010
BAA lost the latest round of a long-running legal saga with the competition authorities over its dominance of the UK's airports yesterday, meaning that it will now be forced to sell Stansted, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.
The group, owned by the Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, lost a hearing in the Court of Appeal brought by the Competition Commission.
The case followed a ruling in the Competition Appeals Tribunal earlier this year which found in favour of BAA: that an investigation by the commission was biased because a committee member – Professor Peter Moizer – was an adviser to Manchester Airport's pension fund, which had expressed an interest in investing in an airport.
BAA, which operates Heathrow and has already been forced to sell Gatwick airport, said it would appeal to the Supreme Court. The company argues that the Court of Appeal accepted that "apparent bias" existed during part of the commission's investigation.
"We are disappointed that the Court of Appeal has upheld two of the five grounds argued by the Competition Commission," a BAA spokesman said. "We note the court's view that apparent bias in relation to a panel member existed during part of the commission's investigation and will study this judgment carefully. We will be seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court."
The earlier tribunal had found that there was apparent bias in the investigation, but yesterday's hearing upheld an argument by the Competition Commission that this was true only between December 2008 and March 2009, after the pension fund had informed Professor Moizer of its intentions.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Professor Moizer's connection to the Manchester Airport pension fund was too remote to have influenced the original recommendation that BAA be forced to sell off a number of assets.
"We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has found in our favour in the BAA case," a Competition Commission spokesman said.
"The effect of this decision is to restore in full our report together with its remedies including the requirement for BAA to sell Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, Gatwick having already been sold. Our intention now is to work with BAA to implement these measures in the interests of the travelling public."
The commission said it was tightening its procedures following the decision, and that it took "very seriously the need for our inquiry panels to be completely impartial".
Sources close to the commission conceded that it was not surprised that BAA was seeking leave to appeal.
It is understood that BAA will press Professor Moizer's involvement as the central element of its appeal. BAA believes that having established that there was "apparent bias" after December 2008, it has a strong case.
A source close to the company said: "Several key decisions were taken after that date, including the timetable and the criteria for purchasers. It is not just a technicality."
Chris Yates, an independent aviation analyst, said yesterday: "I'm sure that BAA will do everything it can to challenge this decision – Stansted has been a cash cow for the company and gives it a strong footprint in the South-east of England.
Separately, it is believed that Highstar Capital, which owns a 25 per cent stake in London's City airport is hoping to raise as much as £200m from selling the stake.
New York-based Highstar refused to comment, while Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the majority owner, did not return calls. GIP also bought Gatwick from BAA last December.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...
$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...
Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...
Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...