UK cities eye asset sales to Middle East
Birmingham approached by sovereign funds while Liverpool is reviewing assets, and Somerset is selling farms.
September 22, 2010 1:12 by Reuters
One Conservative Party councillor, who asked not to be named, said the council could raise funds by selling its 19 percent stake in Birmingham international airport.
Britain’s sixth busiest airport is worth about 870 million pounds, based on the 420 million pounds the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Australia’s Victorian Funds Management paid for a 48 percent stake in 2007.
Such a sale would have long-term strategic and financial implications, however, and Brew was less keen on sales of anything other than real estate assets, saying he knew of no plans to sell the NEC or the council’s airport stake.
“They generate good returns and they have a good asset value… Now is not the time to review those type of assets because you would not get the maximum value,” he said.
Birmingham airport reported a net profit of 0.6 million pounds for the year to end-March, down from 9.9 million pounds in 2008/09. The council earned a dividend income of 0.4 million pounds for the year to end-March, down from 2 million pounds.
The council, which according to Brew owns about 40 percent of Birmingham, has a total capital budget for the next three years of just under 1.5 billion pounds.
“We will fund that by a number of means and included in that will be capital receipts from the sale of properties we have that are surplus to requirements,” said Brew.
Other big items sitting on the council’s balance sheet include about 2 billion pounds worth of social housing, equating to a third of its total fixed assets.
“We are looking at a number of situations,” said Brew, pointing out the city’s track record for attracting investment.
“We have strengthened our links with China … we also have links with India and we’re trying to link in with their economies and bring people over.”
Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate plant is now owned by Kraft, Hong Kong billionaire Carson Yeung controls Birmingham City Football Club, India’s Tata Motors operates Jaguar Land Rover and China’s SAIC now owns the MG Rover assets at Longbridge.
(By Lorraine Turner. Additional reporting by Golnar Motevalli, Paul Hoskins, Sinead Cruise, Daryl Loo and Raissa Kasolowsky; Writing by Paul Hoskins, editing by Dan Lalor and Elaine Hardcastle) ($1 = 0.6403 pound)