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BAA win appeal against selling UK airports

Mon 21st Dec 2009

BAA has won its appeal against the court order made against them in March 2009 that it should sell three of its seven UK airports, due to the ruling panel being affected by "apparent bias". The Competition Commission had ruled that BAA, owned by the Spanish group, Ferrovial, should sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports within two years, due to the lack of competition being "bad for passengers and airlines".

BAA protested that there was a conflict of interest because of links between a member of the commission panel and an organisation interested in buying the airports. BAA said that Professor Peter Moizer should not have been on the panel as he was a long-standing paid adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which had links with Manchester Airport Group (MAG). MAG is a potential buyer for the airports BAA was told to sell, and it participated in the commission's investigation. /p>

"A fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias affecting the deliberations, thinking and ultimate outcome of the investigation," the tribunal mentioned in making its judgement.

BAA had also argued that the commission had not given them enough time to prepare and complete the required sales, particularly given "the current financial and economic circumstances". The appeal tribunal however rejected this argument.

BAA has already sold Gatwick but the judgement will not affect that sale. It is unclear whether BAA will have to sell the other airports, but what is clear is that they have bought themselves considerably more time.

Spanish transport group, Ferrovial, bought BAA in 2006 for more than 10 billion pounds.

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