Infratil buy 5% of Dubai's takeover target Auckland airport

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Infratil, the publicly traded company that owns New Zealand’s Wellington airport, has bought a 5% stake in Auckland airport at a time when the airport is subject to a takeover bid by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), a Dubai-headquartered aviation services company.

In a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange, Infratil says it has acquired a shareholding in publicly traded Auckland International Airport (AIA). In a separate statement to the exchange AIA says Infratil’s stake is 5.01%. The shares were bought on the open market.

Infratil, which is a major stakeholder in New Zealand’s Wellington airport, says that even though it now has a vested interest in AIA it still has “a strong interest” in developing a secondary airport at Whenuapai, outside Auckland.

A secondary Auckland airport would increase competition against AIA, an airport that Air New Zealand claims has abused its monopoly position by pushing through hikes in user fees and charges.

Auckland airport in the past has been opposed to Infratil’s efforts to develop the Whenuapai airbase into a commercial airport.

Infratil’s sudden move onto the AIA share registry comes after DAE last month made an offer to pay up to NZ$2.6 billion ($2.1 billion) for a 51-60% stake in AIA, valuing New Zealand’s largest airport at NZ$5.6 billion.