Auckland Airport Deal Collapse, DAE's Chief Exec Resigns

Liam Dann

Kjeld Binger, chief executive of Dubai Aerospace (DAE) Airports, has resigned just weeks after his company pulled the plug on its $2.5 billion bid for Auckland Airport.

The charismatic Dane was the public face of the Dubai bid which ran into trouble after a public backlash about foreign ownership of the airport.

Despite the political difficulties the bid faced, Binger remained confident about the chances of success until a sudden backdown on August 31.

There has been speculation that the decision to pull the bid was made over Binger's head - by DAE's wealthy owners, the al-Maktoum family, who were upset at comments made by senior New Zealand politicians.

Trade Minister Phil Goff expressed his personal opposition to the sale and local body politicians such as Manukau mayor Barry Curtis were even more outspoken.

The bids needed support from Auckland City and Manukau City Councils, which between them hold just over 23 per cent of the airport.

Despite the withdrawal of the DAE offer, Auckland Airport is subject to a similar ownership proposal from Canada Pension Plan.

The Canadian Government-owned fund plans to buy a minority stake as opposed to DAE's offer which would have seen it take a 50.1 per cent stake.

DAE has said Binger departed amicably to pursue new endeavours but that it has no further comment.

He could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Binger - previously a highly successful executive with Copenhagen Airport - joined DAE only in January.

He brought across nine executives to DAE Airports from Copenhagen Airports and was to have led a US$4 billion spend-up on airports around the globe.

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