NEW ZEALAND - The CA$120.5bn (€89bn) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is to approach Auckland International Airport (AIAL) shareholders directly after the firm called off talks on its bid to acquire a 49% stake.

Revamped proposals for an all-cash partial takeover offer, announced last week, would give CPPIB 40% of AIAL.

The pension fund said the move was in response to "strong encouragement" from some shareholders and would give them "the ability to assess CPPIB's proposal for themselves". Only one member of the board voted to recommend the scheme's original proposal to shareholders.

Despite bypassing AIAL's board, the pension fund still has been careful to maintain an amicable line on what is effectively a snub to the firm's directors.

"The step we are now taking in no way detracts from our desire to work with the company and its management team," the CPPIB said in a statement.

However, it is difficult to see how the pension fund will win backing even for a reduced stake from a board which claimed its initial proposal would "introduce an unacceptable increase in risk" and impede the company's growth.

The board also claimed the pension fund lacked development expertise. "While CPPIB would no doubt have been a committed long-term investor, they are clearly not able to bring industry or tourism experience," it said in a statement on the original offer.

AIAL's board last week issued a muted response to the latest move, saying it would "evaluate the takeover offer once it is received and advise shareholders accordingly".

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Julie Henderson on + 44 (0)20 7261 4602 or email