BAA has warned potential bidders it will not sell Gatwick airport unless the asking price is met, despite its London assets incurring a £545.7m first-half pre-tax loss.

Colin Matthews, the chief executive, said the airport operator 'remains in discussions' with interested parties, but does not need to sell Gatwick to repay £1bn of debt maturing in 2010.

BAA, which also owns Heathrow and Stansted, is believed to be seeking at least £1.58bn, the regulated asset base of the airport. So far, bidders, including a consortium led by Manchester Airport Group, have only proposed up to £1.4bn, in what are proving difficult negotiations.

'If we can’t sell Gatwick at that basis price [the asking price] then we don’t have to sell it,' Matthews said.

Daily Telegraph