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Airport operator BAA has turned to Brick Court Chambers silks Nicholas Green and Mark Hoskins as it appeals a Competition Commission ruling that it claims effectively forced it to sell three of its airports. The airports include Gatwick, which was sold for £1.5bn last week to Global Infrastructure Partners.
BAA argued at the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) that the commission’s inquiry suffered from a conflict of interest because one of its members, Professor Peter Moizer of Leeds University Business School, was a long-term adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which was part of a consortium that bid for Gatwick.
BAA - a subsidiary of Spanish company Ferrovial - put Gatwick up for sale at the end of last year in a bid to pre-empt a Competition Commission decision that it should break up its London airports monopoly.
The possibility of buying the UK’s second-busiest airport was believed to have elicited initial interest from six consortia. They were: Gatwick Future Partnership; Global Infrastructure Partners; Hochtief AirPort; Lysander Gatwick Investment Group (Citi Infrastructure Investors, Vancouver Airport Services and John Hancock Life Insurance Company); Manchester Airports Group and Borealis; and 3i’s infrastructure arm, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Canada Pension Plan. The Greater Manchester Pension Fund was part of the Manchester Airports Group bid.
John Swift QC and Paul Harris at Monckton Chambers are acting for the Competition Commission. They were instructed by Duncan Brown in the Treasury Solicitor’s Department.