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Councillors to discuss if airport growth plans should take off
Monday 24th September, 2012

Major changes at Manchester Airport will be discussed at a meeting of Wigan Council’s cabinet.

Up for discussion on September 27 will be changes to the ownership structure of the company that runs the North West’s biggest airport - and plans for its expansion.

Wigan Council is a minority shareholder in the airport group – along with eight other councils in Greater Manchester. Manchester City Council currently holds a 55 percent stake.

The cabinet will debate the airport’s plan to attract investors to fund an ambitious expansion programme. Independent financial advisers have said the company will need to change its ownership structure to allow this expansion to take place.

Councillors will be asked to support the selection of an external investor and an accountancy firm to act as independent advisors.

The plans are designed to secure economic growth at the airport group and protect the interests of the company’s existing shareholders.

Wigan Council currently receives an annual dividend from its shareholding, which is usually around £1million. The council does not include this money in its budget planning and has previously used it to fund one-off costs. Work on the changes began in February.

Paul McKevitt, Wigan Council’s director of public services, says: “We have a minority shareholding of just five percent in the airport. These changes are designed to strengthen the company and protect the annual dividend we receive as a result of our shareholding.

“The dividend is additional money which Wigan Council does not budget for and allows us to fund one-off costs. If a strategy for growth is not pursued by the airport these payments may reduce in future years.

“This proposal is about bringing capital investment into the airport group to fund expansion which will lead to future growth.”

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