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Tue 21 Aug 2007 01:57 PM

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DAE denies Gatwick bid

Dubai-owned aviation holding company denies reports it is preparing to bid for UK's second largest airport.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has denied reports it is preparing to make a bid for the UK’s second largest airport.

In a statement today the state-owned aviation holding company said it was not considering a bid for Gatwick Airport at this time.

"At this time DAE is not considering bidding for Gatwick Airport," Bob Johnson, chief executive of DAE, said in a statement to ArabianBusiness.com.

His comments follow a report in UK newspaper The Times that DAE may consider a bid for Gatwick Airport if it is auctioned off, citing sources close to the company.

Airport operator BAA is under pressure to break up its monopoly of the UK’s seven major airports and sources have said DAE is preparing to make an offer.

It is anticipated the Gatwick will be the subject of a three billion pound ($6 billion) auction in the near future.

According to the newspaper, DAE will be up against Frankfurt airport owner Fraport, Australia's Macquarie Bank and other private equity firms, all of which have expressed an interest in BAA’s assets.

BAA was bought by Spanish construction giant Ferrovial last year for 10.3 billion pounds and the company is reportedly looking to sell off parts of BAA to pay down debt from the acquisition.

Ferrovial may also be looking to pre-empt any decision by the UK government forcing it to break up BAA’s airport monopoly.

The airport operator is currently being investigated by the Competition Commission to determine whether this should happen.

If DAE does move to acquire Gatwick, it would be the biggest acquisition it has made to date.

The company, which also owns Dubai International Airport, is currently attempting to acquire a controlling stake in New Zealand’s Auckland airport, and earlier this month bought US aircraft maintenance firms Landmark Aviation and Standard Aero for $1.9 billion.

DAE has previously said it plans to invest $15 billion in airport development and aeroplane leasing and servicing worldwide.

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