Soutar looks to skies as airport bid beckons

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STAGECOACH boss Sir Brian Souter was today said to be poised to join a bid to take over Edinburgh Airport.

He is understood to be considering getting involved in a consortium led by US private equity firm Carlyle, which is being advised by Sir Angus Grossart, owner of Edinburgh-based merchant bank Noble Grossart. They are reportedly holding talks with a number of Scottish financial institutions and business leaders.

BAA announced last month it would sell Edinburgh Airport after a Competition Commission ruling that it must dispose of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport. The sale is expected to attract a lot of interest with a price of around £600 million being quoted.

The Carlyle-led group is the second Scottish consortium to be preparing an offer. Former airport managing director Richard Jeffrey and Ben Thomson, chairman of Inverleith Capital, are already working up a bid.

Sources were today quoted saying Sir Brian had not made a final decision but would consider becoming a partner with other bidders.

Sir Angus has previously given backing to Sir Brian’s business ventures and the pair were partners in the acquisition of Istanbul’s main ferry operator.

Edinburgh is Scotland’s largest airport with around 9.2 milion passengers and 100,000 flights per year.

Sir Angus and his team are said to want to “grow a very strong Scottish asset”.

Carlyle is understood to have around £95 billion of assets under management and has recently attracted a raft of big hitters to its ranks, including former prime minister John Major.