Coventry investor acquires share of UK's Exeter airport

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Infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty is selling its shareholding in the UK's regional Exeter airport to Rigby Group, the company which acquired Coventry airport.

Balfour Beatty had been behind the £60 million ($92 million) acquisition of the airport, from the local Devon council in 2007, through its operating company Regional and City Airports.

Exeter airport is the base for UK regional carrier Flybe. Rigby Group's aviation division, Patriot Aerospace, is taking over the shareholding for an undisclosed sum.

Balfour Beatty had 60% of the airport but wrote down its investment to nil last year, citing "continued poor traffic volumes". It says proceeds from the sale will be used to repay funders.

"We are pleased to have come to an arrangement with our [joint venture] partner and the funders that ensures the future viability of the airport for its staff and the local community it serves," adds chief executive Andrew McNaughton.

Rigby Group chairman Sir Peter Rigby says the company "believes in the importance of regional airports" and adds: "We are intent on developing our aviation business, within the Rigby Group."

It has newly acquired British International Helicopters and Rigby says the company will "consolidate" the activities "with a view to being a leading group in the sectors of regional airports and helicopter operations".