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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Eversheds advises NATS on its sale of FerroNATS

Eversheds Sutherlan Spain has advised UK-based Nats on the sale of its 50% stake in FerroNATS to Serveo, a company owned by the Portobello fund and Ferrovial

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NATS has sold FerroNATS, the pioneering Spanish joint venture we originally set up with Ferrovial Servicios – now Serveo – over a decade ago in 2011.

FerroNATS is now wholly owned by Portobello Capital and will go by the new name of Skyway.

FerroNATS was born when the Spanish government announced plans to liberalise air traffic control services at 12 airports. The ambition was to open the national air traffic control sector up to competition in search of efficiency gains, greater resilience and innovation.

Following a very competitive tender process that attracted bids involving many of Europe’s top air traffic service providers, FerroNATS emerged as the front runner and immediately began planning the transition of a number of towers across Spain. All were very varied in type, from smaller but busy general aviation airfields through to international airports at some of Spain’s most important tourist destinations.

This was a huge undertaking, including recruiting of more than 100 air traffic controllers in just eight months, submitting all the safety case documentation required for a change of supplier, completing various training processes, and ultimately the transfer of responsibility itself.

With hindsight, it’s easy to forget now how brave and innovative this all was. At first it required us to embed a number of our own operational, business and safety experts, but over the years we’ve reduced our level of direct involvement to the point where it now runs entirely independently. Fast forward a decade and we’re leaving a thriving, well established ANSP, one that is successfully running eight towers across Spain – Sabadell, Valencia, Seville, Ibiza, Alicante, Murcia, Lleida y La Seu d’Urgell– and safely managing almost half a million aircraft movements and over 28 million passengers every year.

“After more than 10 years and a huge amount of hard work, it has still achieved everything we hoped. There’s no doubt we’ve also learned an awful lot about running a joint venture, but with the change in ownership at Ferrovial Servicios now feels like the right time for us to step back. That’s not to say we don’t expect to still work together on new projects, and we’ve signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement to signal the strength of that intent,” said NATS in a statement.

Eversheds Sutherland advised NATS with a Corporate / M&A team made up of partner Juan E. Díaz assisted by counsel Diego Cruz-Villalón and David Williams.

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