Italian caterer Autogrill spent $1.5 billion (£742 million) on airport retail assets on Monday, making it the world's top airport retailer and easing the financing problems of one seller, Spain's Ferrovial.
Autogrill said it would buy World Duty Free from construction and services group Ferrovial and acquire full control of another airport retail operation, its joint venture Aldeasa, for a total 990 million euros (£742 million).
The Italian catering giant paid Ferrovial 715 million euros for World Duty Free funds, which should help the Spanish company towards refinancing of £9/£10 billion pounds in debt related to its purchase of British airports operator BAA in 2006.
Autogrill, which operates restaurants on motorways and in airports, also bought the 49.95% stake it does not own in Aldeasa from Altadis, now controlled by Imperial Tobacco Group Plc after a takeover last year.
Autogrill, which bought Britain's Alpha Airports last year, said it expects annual synergy benefits of about 40 million euros by 2011. It said the acquisitions would add to earnings from 2009 and be neutral this year. (source: Reuters)