Firm quintet advises as Australian investor takes stake in Newcastle Airport

Baker & McKenzie and CMS Cameron McKenna are among five firms to have advised as Copenhagen Airports agrees to sell a 49 per cent share in NIAL Group, the parent company of Newcastle International Airport, to a fund managed by Australia’s AMP Capital.

Newcastle Airport

AMP, through its Strategic Infrastructure Trust of Europe (SITE) fund, will acquire the 49 per cent stake in the airport, sold by Danish airports operator Copenhagen Airports, after the company won an auction and agreed to pay a reported £150m.

The remaining stake in the airport will be retained by seven north-east local authorities, Durham, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle and Northumberland, known collectively as the LA7.

Copenhagen Airports, the listed company that owns and operates the airports at Kastrup and Roskilde, was represented by Bakers, led by London-based corporate partner Tim Sheddick and associate Stefan Kecman.

CMS took a first-time role advising AMP, led by London-based corporate partner Charles Currier. AMP has long-standing experience investing in airports and is known for its involvement in Melbourne and Launceston Airports in Australia.

Newcastle Airport was represented by Newcastle firm Ward Hadaway, understood to be led by commercial litigation partner Tim Toomey, with Allen & Overy project finance counsel Jocelyn Land advising it on refinancing aspects of the sale.

Linklaters advised the lending banks, including the Royal Bank of Scotland and RBC Capital Markets, on a related refinancing deal with the airport. The magic circle firm’s team was led by infrastructure partner Ian Andrews.

Ashurst successfully pitched to act for the local councils, led by corporate partner Eavan Saunders Cole and senior associate Karan Dinamani, as they inject a reported £68m into the British airport.

Background to this deal:

Bakers had a role acting for Macquarie-owned funds when the Australian bank swapped its assets in Brussels Airport and Copenhagen Airport with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Planin a $1.7bn deal last summer. Bakers won a lead role advising Copenhagen Airports on the back of this.

AMP is a new client for CMS, which won the mandate because Currier has led on two transactions in which AMP Capital had been on the other side, one being the acquisition of UK gas company Wales & West Utilities by Cheung Kong Infrastructure earlier this year (26 July 2012).

Ashurst won a role on the deal following a straight pitch.

This deal comes on the heels of controversy following a High Court hearing earlier this month in which Newcastle Airport failed in its attempt to sue Eversheds for negligence (2 October 2012).