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Belfast City Airport hoping for growth following takeover

By John Mulgrew

Belfast City Airport will look to expand its operations here following its takeover by an international investment fund, its chief executive has said.

Brian Ambrose was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as the sale of the airport to 3i, as part of a £700m deal, was finally completed.

3i now owns the airport along with East Surrey Pipelines and a number of other assets, which were owned by the Eiser Fund. It's understood the deal, which has been in the works for around 18 months, completed on Thursday.

"It's great news. 3i are a very well respected company, performing very well," Mr Ambrose said.

"It's their first asset in Northern Ireland, their first airport. They are excited about it. We have plans to further expand the business and they have the ability to back us in those plans.

"We are expecting, in the coming months, a number of announcements of investments in the infrastructure, which is great news for us."

That's likely to include increasing and growing the retail offering at the airport.

"If you look at the areas you want to grow, retail is one," he said. "Then, if you look at other areas where technology can help us to more efficiently process passengers, reduce queue times.

"Part would be to enhance the customer product and part to facilitate expansion."

Former owners Eiser Global Infrastructure Fund, based in London, bought the airport for £132.5m in 2008.

It's understood the airport is expected to announce further investments as a result of the deal in the coming months. 3i has its head office based in London and its core investment markets are Europe and North America.

"3i's arrival is another important landmark in what has been an exciting period of expansion for the business," Mr Ambrose said.

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