As privatization plans for Chicago’s Midway Airport get into gear, companies like BAA PLC and Macquarie are already expressing interest:
Some of the world’s biggest infrastructure investors are buzzing Midway Airport as the city of Chicago moves ahead with plans to privatize the southwest-side facility. BAA PLC, a U.K.-based airports operator, and Australia’s Macquarie Infrastructure Group are among the players that have already expressed interest in taking control of Midway, sources say. Macquarie, a financial institution with assets of $80.56 billion under management, recently teamed with Spain’s Cintra SA in deals to take control of the Chicago Skyway for $1.83 billion and Indiana’s toll road for $3.85 billion. BAA is a leading airport operator, managing seven airports in the United Kingdom as well as Indianapolis International Airport in the U.S. Plans to privatize Midway are in the very early stages. The City of Chicago hasn’t yet appointed a financial manager for the project or issued a request for qualifications to identify interested parties. Once it does so, the airport is expected to spark a bidding war. “Midway should be one of the most attractive privatization candidates in the country,” says Matt Andersson, CEO of Aviation Development Holdings, a civil aviation investment and development company based in Chicago. “It’s limited only by its ability to expand its footprint.” The airport serves as a major operations center for Southwest Airlines, which accounts for about 75% of its capacity, drawing passengers from as far as Iowa and Indiana. Also attractive to developers: much of Midway and surrounding property falls within a zone that makes new projects eligible for incentives from the city of Chicago.