Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the owner of London's Gatwick and City airports, and a JP Morgan-led consortium are to fight each other for control of Edinburgh Airport and are set to submit final bids next week, sources close to the process said.
GIP is an investment fund founded by Credit Suisse and General Electric. JP Morgan recently added the Korean airport authority Incheon International Airport Corp and U.S. teachers pension fund TIAA-Cref to its consortium.
Consortia led by Carlyle Group and 3i were knocked out of the bidding last month, the sources said.
GIP, with its experience running UK airports, maybe has the edge ... JP Morgan has also seemingly added Incheon to its bid recently and TIAA-Cref not that long ago, so GIP looks a lot more settled in terms of what it wants to do, one source close to the sale process told Reuters.
GIP is seen as steady, maybe because it is bidding alone, and as a safe pair of hands.
TIAA-Cref manages around 300 billion pounds ($480 billion) of pension assets for teachers and scientific researchers. Incheon International Airport Corp operates the largest airport in South Korea near Seoul.
The two groups are expected to submit their final offers after the coming Easter holiday weekend.
The JP Morgan consortium is being advised by Royal Bank of Canada, another source said.
Ferrovial-owned BAA must sell London Stansted airport, Britain's fourth busiest, after a court dismissed its appeal against a ruling by Britain's Competition Commission (CC) earlier this month.
The company last year chose to sell Edinburgh airport after the CC ordered it to dispose of one of its Scottish airports. It is expected to fetch around 500 million pounds.
3i's pull-out was followed by the resignation of chief executive Michael Queen last week amid continued shareholder frustration over poor performance and lack of deal activity.
GIP and JP Morgan were unavailable for comment when contacted by Reuters.
(Editing by Paul Hoskins and Andrew Callus)