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Speculation grows over sale of Gatwick Airport

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The start of 2018 has already brought speculation that there may be an imminent sale of Gatwick Airport.

With a national newspaper reporting the speculation it has done nothing but stir up the interests from local businesses and leaders of how this would affect the local economy and infrastructure.

Suggested reports of huge increases in dividend payments due to the large swell in passenger numbers over the past year do indicate a rapid growth for the countries second busiest airport but also add fuel to the logic of a sale.

Currently owned between a plethora of investors and GIP, Global Infrastructure Partners, Gatwick has seen numerous improvements and advances since it was bought from BAA back in 2009.

Recently more exciting news came when Crawley Council approved the building of a new multi-million pound maintenance hub for Boeing at Gatwick, bringing even more jobs to the area.

What is uncertain though, is if a sale was to go ahead, whether it would occur before or after a decision on the second runway, as this would have huge implications on the airports value.

Local leaders have already commented on the speculation;

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“Ever since BAA sold Gatwick to GIP almost a decade ago the airport has been seen as an investment asset and if transferred again now it’s no great surprise. The positive of Gatwick’s private ownership is the over £1 billion which its owners have put in.

Crawley people should be cautious though that any further airport sale isn’t just about getting an extra runway, taking the profit and leaving local people with the cost of providing the rail, road and housing infrastructure that would be needed with such expansion.”
Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, commented:

“it’s not a surprise to see this speculation on the possible sale of Gatwick Airport.  When GIP bought the airport in 2009 the financial method they used had a 10-12 year life and we’ve seen 58% already sold to Institutional Investors.”

“The bigger question is around the next runway as that decision will have a big impact on the value of Gatwick and, of course on the likely owners. 

To my mind, it makes sense for GIP to hold onto their investment and to be the people behind the development of Gatwick’s second runway; something we continue to lobby for.”

Steve Sawyer, Executive Director of Manor Royal Business District Ltd said:

“The important thing for us is that, if Gatwick is sold, we maintain good relations with the owners and they understand the various relationships between the airport and surrounding area, including Manor Royal. 

Since GIP has taken over Gatwick has flourished. I’m sure it’s even more attractive to a prospective buyer than it was and would be more so with permission to expand.
Some have speculated that GIP would sell at some point, so perhaps no major surprise but we will have to see.
It’s not a particular concern provided we can maintain positive relations to ensure the airport can succeed alongside and as part of the success of the area as a whole and not to its detriment. “
A spokesperson for Gatwick said they do not comment on speculation.

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New deal for Manor Royal BID

The Manor Royal BID Company has signed a new deal with Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council aimed at supporting local businesses and boosting economic growth.

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The signing of the Manor Royal Deal comes on the back of the recent vote by businesses to renew the Manor Royal BID (Business Improvement District) and the successful Crawley Growth Programme bid to secure an investment package of £60m for the town.

A recent study revealed the increasing importance of the Manor Royal Business District that now provides over a quarter of all jobs in Crawley, more than 30% of all business rates for the town and a home to over 600 businesses.

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The study also highlighted the increasingly competitive environment in which Manor Royal operates and that close partnership working between businesses and the local authorities would be key to continued success.

The deal is the first of its kind in the county and sets out how the Manor Royal BID and the two councils will work together to plan and deliver additional services, including the Crawley Growth Programme, the new BID Business Plan, as well as respond to other opportunities as they arise.

“This Deal with the county and borough councils formalises what has become a very productive partnership over the past few years,” said Trevor Williams, Thales UK and Manor Royal BID Chair.

“The future programme is exciting but can only be achieved by clear and positive partnership between the BID and both councils. This is what the deal provides.”

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said:

“The business community’s vote of confidence in the Manor Royal BID is testament to all the hard work that’s gone into the initiative in the last five years.

“Now we’re looking forward to continuing to help forge effective business partnerships in the Manor Royal Business District in the future.”

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“Crawley Borough Council is committed to delivering better career prospects for local residents and to do that we need to maintain and develop Manor Royal’s status as one of the leading locations in the UK for doing business.

“The BID, in partnership with local councils, has already delivered much for the business district. This deal will enable us to take things to the next level.”

The three organisations are wasting no time and are already working together to plan the first projects to be delivered following the signing of the deal that will include new digital advertising signage and information boards, improvements to entranceways and significant investment in transport infrastructure.

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