Airport Operator BAA's Profit Fell 21% in 2005

BAA PLC, which operates Heathrow and other major British airports, reported Tuesday that its profits fell 21 percent in 2005 compared to a year earlier.

BAA, which is fighting an 8.75 billion pound ($15.6 billion) takeover bid by Ferrovial SA, said net income dropped to 531 million pounds ($1 billion) from 672 million pounds a year earlier.

But the company talked up its 7.4 percent gain in revenue to 2.2 billion pounds ($4.2 billion) and an 8.1 percent rise in pretax operating profit to 710 million pounds ($1.34 billion).

"Looking forward, this year we are forecasting a 3.5 percent rise in passenger numbers and I am confident that we will convert this growth into another good financial performance," said Chief Executive Officer Mike Clasper.

"Shareholders have strong reasons for confidence in the value of BAA," he added.

Ferrovial's 810 pence ($15.30) per share offer for BAA is "no way near the value of the company," Clasper said in a conference call.

In trading on the London Stock Exchange, BAA shares were down 0.5 percent at 836 pence ($15.81).

BAA operates Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports serving London, and airports at Southhampton, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Budapest, Hungary.

BAA has until May 29 to make changes to its defense strategy and Ferrovial has until June 5 to raise its offer. The Ferrovial consortium includes Canadian investment fund Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and Singapore government fund GIC.

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