Future Fund pays £145m to join Gatwick syndicate

The mystery of who would be the fourth member of the equity syndicate for Gatwick Airport has been solved, with Australia’s Future Fund paying £145m for a 17.2% stake in the Global Infrastructure Partners-owned asset.

Future Fund, the Australian sovereign wealth fund, has paid £145 million (€171 million; $226 million) for a 17.2 percent stake in Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second-largest airport, it has emerged.

The airport was acquired in a £1.5 billion deal by fund manager Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in October 2009.

Following the original acquisition, GIP syndicated equity stakes to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (12.7 percent), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (15 percent) and South Korea’s National Pension Service (12 percent). The latest sale means that the equity syndication process is now complete. 

There had been speculation that the fourth syndicate member would take a stake of around 9 percent, leaving GIP with a 51 percent controlling stake. Instead, Future Fund becomes Gatwick’s second-largest shareholder. However, although GIP only has a 42 percent stake, it has extra voting rights to keep control of Gatwick’s board.

GIP, which has a $5.64 billion fund, was able to acquire Gatwick after competition authorities forced the break-up of BAA due to its dominant market position in the UK. The fund manager also owns London City Airport.

There is speculation that GIP will seek to launch a new fundraising next year with the aim of raising up to $6 billion.

Future Fund was launched by the Australian government in 2006 as an investment programme designed to help the government meet its future pension liabilities. At the end of September 2010, it had almost $70 billion in assets under management.