Sixty seconds with… Holger Linkweiler
Posted: 12 February 2014 | Holger Linkweiler, AviAlliance | No comments yet
Following the purchase of HOCHTIEF AirPort by PSP Investments in 2013 and the subsequent rebranding to AviAlliance, the company’s Managing Director, Holger Linkweiler, explains why it’s an exciting time for the group.
One of the world’s leading private industrial airport operators, HOCHTIEF AirPort’s heritage dates back to the 1930s. Originally prominent in the airport construction market, in the 1980s HOCHTIEF became involved in airport financing in connection with Warsaw Airport in Poland. With this venture under the company’s belt, in 1997 HOCHTIEF AirPort GmbH was set up as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary to bundle the group’s airport management companies, and went on to become one of the world’s leading airport networks with stakes in Athens, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Tirana Airports. In October 2013, HOCHTIEF AirPort was sold to a subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada (PSP Investments), and began operating under the new name AviAlliance.
The transition from HOCHTIEF AirPort to AviAlliance marked a big change for the company. “We are very pleased that with PSP Investments we have found a new shareholder with a long-term orientation ready to place its trust in our company, our employees and our expertise,” explains Holger Linkweiler. “The past few weeks have shown that we not only have the same understanding of the market but also that both sides believe in frank and open communication.”
Although the new ownership will not result in any fundamental changes to the company’s corporate strategy, being under a new umbrella does offer fresh opportunities, as Linkweiler reveals: “We consider our current corporate strategy to be very successful. The new umbrella will open up new possibilities that HOCHTIEF – as a large group – was no longer able to offer us. This means that as an investor aligned to the long-run, we will continue to optimise and develop our portfolio of airport stakes.”
So is AviAlliance planning to make any immediate changes to the airports in its portfolio? “We are convinced of the intrinsic value of our airport interests and the prospects they offer for the future,” says Linkweiler. “We will continue to develop our investments and to optimise the portfolio long-term. Where new projects are concerned – that is a subject we traditionally discuss only when the time is ripe. This is an approach that has always paid off in the past. We can say, however, that we do already have concrete ideas and plans in this connection.”
Privatisation is a trend that we’re increasingly seeing in the airport industry, but why is it important? Linkweiler explains: “Our experience – both with our own shareholdings and with other airports – is that private-enterprise management enables facilities to develop more freely. This is because it gives airport staff greater scope for action and the ability to work from their own initiative. They are able to respond more quickly to changing circumstances and are subject to fewer constraints.
“In the future, as aviation becomes more integrated, this will be even more important because it will give airports greater opportunities for playing a stronger intermediary role and making travel more efficient and also more pleasant.”
In its new role, AviAlliance is aiming for further growth both internally and externally. “We keep a close eye on the market and are in a position to take advantage of any favourable opportunities that arise,” says Linkweiler. “We will continue to make our know-how available to other airports and will also be looking to open up new fields of business using our technology competence and process knowledge to create new products. It’s an exciting endeavour. Following a period of transition we are now definitely back in the marketplace as an active partner, and we look forward to addressing the tasks ahead of us.”
Holger Linkweiler is Managing Director of AviAlliance and AviAlliance Capital. Furthermore, he is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Athens International Airport S.A., Member of the Board of Directors at Budapest Airport Zrt., Member of the Supervisory Board at Flughafen Düsseldorf GmbH and Flughafen Hamburg GmbH, and Chairman of the Administrative Council of Tirana International Airport SHPK. Linkweiler is also a co-founder of AviAlliance (formerly HOCHTIEF AirPort), established in 1997.