SPAIN - Infrastructure firm Ferrovial has claimed it will go ahead with its £9bn (€11.7bn) refinancing plans despite rumours suggesting Australian infrastructure investor Macquarie was circling the UK airports operator BAA.

Ferrovial spokesman Luis Alonso Martínez told IPE Real Estate: "The refinancing plans are still on target [for mid-year] but depend on market conditions. There is no fixed date for this at this time, but the market will be informed as and when there are significant changes."

The go-ahead for refinancing will depend on tariff caps at Heathrow, to be decided in March, and Ferrovial chief financial officer Nicolás Villén said it would then take the company ""three or four" months to organise financing.

Ferrovial notes a previous refinancing plan with a defined loan structure already in place was scuppered last year when regulators placed a cap on the charges operators could levy on airlines using its UK airports - a move Ferrovial described as "a regulatory settlement of unprecedented severity".

Villén's comments also follow the firm's decision to fire chief executive Stephen Nelson and replace him with former utilities sector boss Colin Matthews. Recent senior executive attrition would appear to make Nelson's departure unremarkable but in fact he is the first Ferrovial-appointed senior manager to leave, in less than two years after his appointment.
In a statement, Nelson said of his departure: "BAA really is at the start of a new beginning."

UK press reports suggest the new beginning could also relate to new ownership, as Macquarie Bank is thought to be considering a bid.

Villén said Ferrovial was "sticking to plan A". However, the firm has not ruled out eventually selling BAA and will continue its strategy of divesting non-core businesses this year.