AGMA and Manchester Airport Group have confirmed a conditional agreement to sell a stake in the council-owned airport to an Australian pension fund.
The deal would be triggered if MAG is successful in buying BAA's Stansted. A joint statement from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and MAG said: "In February 2012, MAG confirmed that it was inviting detailed proposals from private investors as part of a strategic review of the business. This phase of the review has now been completed with Industry Funds Management selected as MAG's preferred partner.
"MAG is continuing to consider opportunities to add a quality airport to the group. An equity investment by IFM will only be triggered by the acquisition of another airport by MAG."
BAA was forced to put Stansted on the market after a government competition ruling.
IFM is one of the world's largest investors in infrastructure with more than £6bn of assets under management. The group was formed by four Australian pension funds in 1996 specifically for the purpose of providing a cost effective route through which its owners could invest in infrastructure and other asset classes. IFM's ownership has now expanded to 32 pension funds with more than £21bn in total funds under management.
The terms of the deal would see IFM buy a 35% in MAG. The airport is currently owned by all ten Greater Manchester local authorities, with Manchester owning 55% and the rest split equally between the remaining nine. If the sale to IFM goes through, Manchester would retain 35% and the others share 30%.