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Hochtief, partners win new EU approval to buy Budapest Airport

Hochtief AG, Germany's biggest construction company, and its partners won European antitrust approval to buy Budapest airport after refilling the application because of a change in one of the buyers.

The European Commission, the 27-nation European Union's antitrust regulator in Brussels, announced the approval in a statement today. Financial terms for the purchase weren't disclosed. Hochtief AG agreed to buy a 75% stake with its partners in Budapest Ferihegy International Airport from BAA Plc in October, less than a year after losing out in a bidding contest for Hungary's largest hub. Hochtief founded its airport division in 1997, in part to take advantage of increasing passenger numbers and pension funds' appetites for the steady returns airfields can generate. Under the previous purchase plan, Hochtief was to own 50% of the airfield, with its partners Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, Canada's largest pension-fund manager, and Germany's state-owned development bank Kfw owning the rest of the stake and the Hungarian government owning the remaining 25%. The EU approved that deal in December. Under the new ownership structure, Singapore-based GIC Special Investments Pte., a private equity firm, replaced Kfw. BAA bought the airport stake from Hungary in December 2005 for £1.26 billion  ($2.5 billion). (Bloomberg)