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Family firm acquires World Duty Free from BAA

The British Airports Authority has sold World Duty Free Ltd to a family-owned company. Airport foodservice provider Autogrill, controlled by the Benetton family, bought 100% of the company for ?717 million. The sale of the 58 duty free stores has given Ferrovial, the family-owned construction firm that bought BAA in 2006, a cash-boost to help with debt it incurred with the acquisition.

In addition to the purchase of WDF, Autogrill has also increased its stake in Spanish duty free retailer Aldeasa to nearly 99.9%. The firm acquired nearly half of airport retailer Alpha Airports in 2007 and these subsequent transactions mean it will become the world's leading provider in the airport retail market.

"These transactions are a further milestone in the growth of the group," said Gilberto Benetton (pictured), chairman of Autogrill. "In 1995 Autogrill was an Italian food & beverage motorway company with sales of approximately ?800 million.

"Today our group is the global service provider for travellers with a presence in 42 countries and sales of approximately ?6 billion. We are proud to have achieved such an impressive result."

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