Menzies takeover gets OK as pension deficit cut

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Edinburgh-based Menzies Aviation’s takeover of part of Airline Services’ business after an in-depth investigation allayed competition concerns.

Both firms supply airlines in the UK with support services including the de-icing of aircraft and ground handling.

Menzies Aviation operates at 219 airports in 37 countries and is a leading global provider of passenger, ramp and cargo services.

“An initial Phase 1 probe raised concerns that the merger could result in less choice and higher prices or a reduction in quality for these services for airlines at a number of key airports in England and Scotland,” said the CMA.

“These concerns led to the merger being referred to a group of independent CMA panel members for an in-depth Phase 2 investigation.

“The CMA has today issued its final decision.

“Having thoroughly scrutinised the wider evidence base considered in the Phase 2 inquiry, it has found that the market for ground handling services has a strong recent history of companies entering and competing for contracts.

“The CMA also found that Menzies and Airline Services are not close competitors in the market for de-icing services, meaning the takeover would not lead to a substantial lessening of competition.

“The CMA has therefore decided to clear the merger.”

Meanwhile, John Menzies plc on Thursday issued a trading update ahead of its preliminary results on March 13.

“The group’s trading performance for the year to 31 December 2018 has been in line with market expectations,” said Menzies.

“Since our previous update on 20 November 2018 we are very pleased to acknowledge today’s announcement by the CMA granting full clearance with regard to the acquisition of Airline Services Limited which was originally acquired on 4 April 2018.

“We now look forward to taking control of the business, driving the identified synergies and boosting our footprint and product offering across our UK business.”

On the Menzies Pension Fund, the company added: “We have completed the Menzies Pension Fund’s triennial valuation process and agreed the funding payments with the Fund’s trustee.

“We are pleased to report a significant reduction in the funding deficit since the last valuation process.

“Following ongoing contributions, a number of proactive measures taken by the group and the sale of Menzies Distribution, the funding deficit has reduced by over £50m from the £116m in March 2015 to our year end funding deficit of between £60m and £65m.”