A group led by Wellington-based investment bank Morrison & Co and including Infratil and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund has put in a bid for Stansted airport in Britain, according to Reuters.

The Morrison & Co-led group has joined the race for the Britain's third-largest airport, and will face off against Manchester Airports Group, which is in partnership with Australia's Industry Funds Management, Macquarie's infrastructure fund and private-equity firm TPG, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.

Stansted's reliance on low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair, which accounts for some 70 per cent of the airport's traffic, is expected to drag down the price, with an estimated price tag of 1 billion pounds. Stansted is valued at 1.3 billion pounds based on regulatory calculations.

The Manchester Airports Group-led bid is seen as the front-runner, Reuters reported.


Morrison & Co executive director Airports Group Steven Fitzgerald told BusinessDesk last month Stansted was in an "interesting" market, though the sale was in a pre-process stage and it was too early to comment on whether there had been any early talks about a deal.

Sydney-based Fitzgerald wasn't immediately available for comment.

Madrid-based transportation infrastructure investor Ferrovial bought BAA in 2006 for some 10.3 billion pounds, and has been forced to three of its nine airports by the UK's Competition Commission in 2009.

It has already sold Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, and is selling Stansted after giving up its battle when UK Court of Appeal turned down its application in July this year. That leaves it with Heathrow, Southampton airport in southern England and Glasgow and Aberdeen airports in Scotland.

Yesterday, Heathrow warnings full-year earnings will miss its 1.27 billion pounds earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation target after fewer passengers travelled through Europe's busiest hub over the summer. Traffic at Stansted fell 4.6 per cent to 13.5 million in the nine months ended Sept. 30, it said.