Clifford Chance and Freshfields land roles as China buys into Heathrow

Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Simmons & Simmons took roles advising on the acquisition of a 10 per cent stake in Heathrow Airport by a subsidiary of China Investment Corporation (CIC).

Laurie McFadden
Laurie McFadden

The deal sees Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial sell a 5.7 per cent stake in Heathrow Ltd for £257.4 to CIC International, an arm of the Chinese sovereign wealth fund, with the buyer also paying other shareholders £192.6m for a 4.3 per cent stake.

Clifford Chance advised CIC on the purchase, with a team led by London corporate partner Brendan Moylan and including senior associate Philip Li.

Freshfields City corporate partners Laurie McFadden and Frank Miller led for Ferrovial alongside corporate associate Andrew Matthews.

Simmons corporate partner Matt Rees advised Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, which retains a stake in the airport, as do US private equity group Alinda Capital Partners and Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, the Canadian largest pension fund manager, through its subsidiary Britannia Airport Partners (BAP).

BAP was advised by Fasken Martineau corporate partner Daniel Picotte in Montreal.

Background to this deal:

Ferrovial has now decreased its interest in the airport further following a string of sell-offs of its diminishing stake, including most recently the sale of a 10 per cent stake to Qatar Holding in August this year. Freshfields’ McFadden advised the Spanish company on that deal, while Linklaters partner Richard Good advised the Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund.

Ferrovial bought the company under its former name, BAA, in 2006, handing the mandate on the takeover to McFadden (6 June 2006).

The latest deal sees its stake reduced from 49.99 per cent before to Qatari sale to 33.65 per cent.

Heathrow Ltd also owns Stansted, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, with Stansted currently in the process of being sold off.

CIC bought a stake in Thames Water’s parent company Kemble Water earlier this year, turning to Linklaters for advice on the transaction (24 January 2012).

For an in-depth look at international firms’ success winning outbound Chinese M&A work, including from CIC, see City analysis