One of the main parties interested in taking over London Stansted Airport has pulled out of the race to buy the BAA-owned airport, according to reports.
A bidding group led by investment manager Morrison & Co, which operates out of New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, has dropped out, The Daily Telegraph has reported.
The deadline for offers is January 16, with the airport likely to attract offers of more than €1.25 billion.
The contest is now likely to be a two horse-race Manchester Airports Group, which is being backed by Australian investor Industry Funds Management (IFM), and financial bidder Macquarie, the newspaper said.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, last year said: “MAG has a proven track record in running profitable, growing airports through its successful approach to customer service, retail, car parking, property management and aviation development which would benefit passengers in the South East.”
BAA – which officially changed its name to Heathrow Ltd late last year – announced it would sell Stansted last August, following a lengthy legal battle to hold onto the airport.
The UK Competition Commission ruled BAA should sell three of its seven airports in 2009.
It completed the sale of Edinburgh Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in April this year. GIP bought Gatwick Airport in December 2009.
The UK Court of Appeal rejected BAA’s appeal against the sale of Stansted in July 2012, and the following month, BAA said it was giving up its fight to keep the airport.