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Airport/26″/mike1st/mark2nd By JASON BOOTH Staff Reporter Airport Group International Inc. has been quietly put up for sale. The Glendale-based owner/operator of airports has hired investment bank Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette to handle the sale, and bids are due by the end of February, said Patrick Cowell, AGI’s chief executive. Billionaire George Soros, GE Capital, Bechtel Enterprises and others invested millions into AGI in the mid-’90s when its then-parent, Lockheed Corp., looked for additional capital. They were attracted to the vast potential presented by governments around the globe, including the United States, which have been moving to privatize their airports. But the privatization effort has been much slower than anticipated, and competition for airports and airport-operating contracts is heating up. And some AGI shareholders are unwilling to pour more money into the business. Lockheed Martin Corp. remains the biggest stakeholder in AGI, with around 38 percent, followed by Soros Fund Management with 28 percent. GE Capital controls just over 9 percent and Bechtel around 5 percent. General Electric and Bechtel have both been mentioned as possible buyers of the entire operation. The fact that AGI has targeted airports that are in need of facility upgrades is an added attraction for both General Electric, which produces communication equipment used at airports, and Bechtel, a leader in airport construction. Another potential buyer is overseas rival BAA plc, the privately held unit of the British Airport Authority, which is the leader in airport management and AGI’s biggest competitor. Mike Bell, president of BAA America, declined to comment on the AGI sale. AGI’s business plan had projected annual revenues of $700 million and net income of $30 million to $50 million by 2000. But in 1997, revenues were only $138 million, and net income was around $2 million, up from a $10 million net loss in 1996 but still off target. AGI currently owns long-term leases on nine airports around the world, including Luton Airport in the United Kingdom and Perth Airport in Australia. It has contracts to handle part or all of the operations at more than 20 other airports, including Burbank Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

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