Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has won the battle to take over Stansted airport after a £1.5 billion bid was accepted.
Current owner Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly known as BAA, said that the sale of Stansted was set to be completed by the end of next month.
BAA had fought a long battle to keep Stansted after the Competition Commission told the company in 2009 that it had to sell the airport due to competition concerns. But after losing a succession of appeals, BAA eventually put Stansted up for sale last year.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “The transaction represents a significant milestone in the achievement of our previously stated strategy of adding a quality airport to the group and delivering long-term value to our shareholders.
“MAG has a strong track record of creating shareholder value through strategic investment and enhancing operations to improve customer service and drive increased passenger numbers.
"We will use that expertise at Stansted to ensure that the airport can fulfil its potential as a high quality alternative London access point for global air travellers. Stansted has scope to benefit from significant volume growth over the short, medium and long term."
Manchester Airports Group currently owns Manchester airport as well as East Midlands and Bournemouth which collectively serve more than 23.9 million passengers per year. The company is owned by the 10 borough councils of Greater Manchester.
Stansted catered for 17.5 million passengers during 2012 although this was down 3.2 per cent on the previous year.
MAG, which admitted it would make a move for Stansted in October, is believed to have beaten two other bidders for Stansted including Malaysia Airports Holdings, which owns Kuala Lumpur International Airport. MAG has teamed up with global infrastructure group Industry Funds Management for its purchase of Stansted with IFM taking a 35.5 per cent stake in MAG.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “Stansted airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time.
“We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.”