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Saudi Arabia Eyes Majority Stake in Heathrow Airport

Saudi Arabia Eyes Majority Stake in Heathrow Airport

Saudi Arabia Eyes Majority Stake in Heathrow Airport – Raising Concerns

There are growing indications that Saudi Arabia is considering acquiring a majority stake in Heathrow Airport, with the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and asset management firm Ardian sealing a £2.4 billion deal for a 25% stake from Spain-based Ferrovial.

Speculation is now rife that additional shareholders may follow suit in selling their stakes to Saudi Arabia, leveraging the PIF’s substantial assets exceeding half a trillion pounds, including a significant tourism portfolio.

The potential acquisition has raised concerns among some Members of Parliament, notably former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who represents the Hayes and Harlington constituency where Heathrow is located. McDonnell emphasized the strategic importance of Heathrow as an asset, stating, “Heathrow is a strategic resource, and so I am naturally concerned about an asset like this.”

The primary source of concern revolves around Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Felix Jakens, head of campaigns at Amnesty International UK, cautioned against businesses overlooking human rights considerations, stating, “Companies must not get dazzled by the billions Saudi Arabia spends on sports washing and other investments. Businesses must safeguard against any possible links to human rights violations.”

Despite the concerns, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated significant financial endeavors in the tourism sector, including the establishment of a cruise tourism development agency and the upcoming launch of Riyadh Air, an ambitious new airline.

Heathrow Airport declined to comment on the speculation surrounding the potential acquisition. It’s worth noting that the Qatar Investment Authority also holds a stake in the parent company of Heathrow Airport.