UBS Reveals Aena’s Plans for the Future

12 March 2018 – Cinco Días

The major privatisation of recent times – albeit partial, given that the State still owns a 51% stake – has been an undisputed success. The Spanish airport manager Aena made its debut on the Spanish stock market on 11 February 2015 at €58 per share with a market capitalisation of €5.8 billion. Since then, its share price has soared by almost 200% and the firm is now worth more than €25 billion (around €170 per share).

In Spain, the group manages 46 airports and 2 heliports; it also participates in the management of 12 airports in Mexico, two in Colombia and one in Jamaica, and it controls 51% of London’s Luton airport. It is the number 1 airport manager in the world handling more than 265 million passengers in 2017.

But Aena considers that there are opportunities that it must take advantage of and to this end, it is analysing the creation of a new company to undertake its mergers and acquisitions. Aena would control the new company, but it would not be the majority shareholder. That has been revealed by UBS in a report following meetings with the directors of Aena.

An analyst from the Swiss bank Cristian Nedelcu said that “the new company will probably be consolidated in the capital”. “We consider this as something positive, given that it limits the cash flow and commitments from Aena [allocated to those purposes]”, he added.

UBS revealed another one of Aena’s plans for the medium term. The constitution of a “similar company to manage the real estate business, with the incorporation of specialist managers”, which would also limit the resources that the company chaired by Jaime García Legaz (pictured above) would have to allocate to the segment.

Both initiatives open the door to an increase in Aena’s dividend. UBS considers that with the real estate company and the subsidiary to undertake corporate operations, the company would have scope to increase the percentage of profit that it allocates to remunerating shareholders (also known as the ‘payout’).

Whilst €1 billion in free cash flow is equivalent to €6.5 per share, which is what it will pay out of the profits for 2017, it remains to be seen what the company will do with the €1.6 billion that UBS expects it to make in 2021. “The decisions will be known in the coming months”, said the financial institution.

Aena is planning to market 2.7 million m2 of land in Madrid and 1.8 million m2 of land in Barcelona, as revealed at the presentation of its results on 28 February. In Madrid, of the 921 hectares analysed, 526 hectares are developable and 369 are marketable, whilst in Barcelona, of the 328 hectares analysed, 226 are developable and 180 are marketable.

The company recorded revenues from the real estate arm of €61.1 million last year, which represented 1.2% of its total turnover of €4.0 billion. The aeronautical business accounted for 61.5%; the commercial business, 34.7%; and the international business, the remaining 2.6%.

The group earned €1.2 billion last year, 5.8% more than in 2016, with an EBITDA of €2.5 billion, up by 9.8%, and a margin of 62.5%, compared with 60.8% in 2016, “due to the maintenance of the efficiency achieved despite the operational tension resulting from the increase in traffic”, explained the firm.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Pablo M. Simón)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Aena To Sell More Than 2,000 Ha Of Land Near Its Spanish Airports

15 November 2017 – Expansión

The state-owned group is going to sell more than 2,000 hectares of land around its airports for the construction of hotels, offices and shopping centres. The Ministry of Development is hereby launching a project that is seven times larger than Operación Chamartín.

(…) The Government has given the green light for Aena to launch what is going to be the largest ever operation involving the sale of land in Spain, according to authorised sources from the Ministry of Development speaking to El Mundo.

The new President of Aena, Jaime García-Legaz, has been given the mandate of optimising the value of the resources of the company, in which the Government holds a majority stake, and selling more than 2,000 hectares of land around the country’s main airports. Above all, the sale involves undeveloped, developable land, but it also includes some plots that are already occupied but which have a significant remaining surface area that may also be developed.

Aena’s studies, authorised by the Minister for Development, Íñigo de la Serna, involve the sale of land for the construction of hotels, offices and shopping centres, in line with those surrounding the main airports in Europe.

The land owned by Aena that has been identified as “potentially marketable” is equivalent to seven times the already gigantic Operación Chamartín, which encompasses 311 hectares to the north of Madrid and which is considered to be the largest urban development plan currently underway in the European Union.

Aena has been a major landowner since its constitution in 1990 and in its business plan, the plots of land surrounding the airports in Madrid and Barcelona are essential. Together, they are going to account for more than 50% of the total to be developed, according to preliminary estimates.

Around Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport, the studies have analysed a gross area of 921 hectares. Taking into account that some of the space will have to be allocated to roads and green areas, it is estimated that at least 573 hectares may be used as plots for lucrative use (…).

In Barcelona, the potentially marketable land comprises 336 hectares, of which 211 hectares would correspond to net lucrative plots. The rest of the real estate operation will focus on the airports in Tenerife Sur, Jerez and Sevilla, in particular.

The sources consulted highlight that the process will be undertaken in phases and that real estate experts will be hired to optimise the transactions, which will consist of the development, rental and sale of plots of land, depending on the option considered most attractive for Aena (…).

The share price of the public airport manager has now recovered to a level not seen since before the departure of the previous President, José Manuel Vargas. It closed yesterday at €159.40 per share, which is equivalent to a market capitalisation of more than €24,000 million. On the day that Vargas resigned, 26 September, each share was worth €151.

Original story: Expansión (by Carlos Segovia)

Translation: Carmel Drake