Gatwick has declined to comment on a weekend report that bosses have signed up to a bonus scheme that should pay out handsomely when the West Sussex airport is sold.
The bonuses of “certain members” of its board are directly linked to the amount received from a sale, the In the small print of Gatwick’s annual accounts are reported to show.
The government is currently considering with whether to back expansion at Gatwick or Heathrow after delaying the controversial decision until the summer. The Sussex airport’s value is likely to soar if it wins approval for a second runway.
The disclosure will fuel controversy because it indicates, for the first time, that management are likely to gain personally from expansion, The Sunday Times reported.
Gatwick was bought from BAA in 2009 for £1.5 billion by the private equity giant Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and a consortium of investors.
GIP last week sold London City airport for £2.3 billion — about 32 times its annual underlying profits — setting a record for an airport.
It was bought by a consortium of three Canadian investors and Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund. GIP bought the airport in 2006 for about £750 million.
The share scheme for Gatwick executives was set up in 2011 and rewards them on the basis of the “internal rate of return achieved by the company’s controlling shareholder from acquisition to sale of their investment in the company”.
As well as performance and profits, that rate of return hinges on the “level of any future sale,” the newspaper reported. It is capped at an undisclosed level.
Gatwick declined to say which of its executives are in the scheme.
GIP last year insisted it had no plans to sell up immediately if it won planning permission for the runway. It owns 42% of the airport, with much of the rest held by investors from Abu Dhabi, California, Korea and Australia.
Former British Airways pilot Jock Lowe, whose plan to extend a Heathrow runway is also being considered by the government, told The Sunday Times: “The real motive of the owners and management at Gatwick is to stop Heathrow expanding — and then, having got permission to expand themselves, sell Gatwick to the highest bidder.”
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