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Infratil's role in Airways Corp bid revealed

By Ray Lilley

Friday 19th May 2000

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Utilities investor Infratil has emerged as the capital provider behind Airways Corporation's bid to take a stake in the UK's national airways traffic control system, along with US giant Lockheed Martin, if it is put on the market by the UK Labour government.

Infratil is on the prowl for fresh investments with a $100 million cashbox and its first investment may be the $30 million deal to buy the system, known as Nats.

Infratil chairman Kevin O'Connor said the company had been tracking Airways' intellectual capital since the prospect of its privatisation first arose in 1995.

Airways would provide consulting expertise and Infratil capital to the venture. Opportunities could also arise in other parts of the world "so we have been working with them," Mr O'Connor said.

There were no firm commitments to any investment as "it is early days. We have very strict investment criteria and any investment would only be taken up if it complied with those criteria."

He said the issue of Airways' privatisation was off the government agenda.

Infratil confirmed it would have $100 million to invest as it sold down 14% of its portfolio this year, saying it was a great time to buy.

The company's net profit of $34.2 million was up 28.5% on a year earlier ($26.6 million).

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