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Auckland airport buys stake in two Queensland airports

Auckland International Airport plans to buy a stake in North Queensland Airports (NQA) which operates Cairns and Mackay airports.

It is buying the 25% NQA stake, for A$132.8 million ($123.6 million), from Australian bank Westpac, says Auckland Airport.

"This proposed acquisition opens up exciting new opportunities to strengthen and grow air services connections with Cairns as a stepping stone between New Zealand and the high-growth tourism markets of Asia," says Auckland Airport's chairman Tony Frankham.

"New Zealand has underperformed against Australia in gaining a share of Asian tourism, so we have decided to take a position in the Australian market in an effort to get better connected and lift our market share," says Auckland Airport's chief executive Simon Moutter.

The purchase is due to settle on 13 January, subject to NQA's financiers approving the deal, says Auckland Airport.

With the purchase, Auckland Airport will be the only airport operator shareholder in NQA.

The other shareholders are the Infrastructure Investment Fund, advised by JP Morgan Asset Management; The Infrastructure Fund, managed by Hastings Funds Management; and Australian proprietary company Perron Investments.

Besides Cairns airport, NQA also operates Mackay airport.

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