CPPIB invests €376m in European car parks

The Canadian pension has acquired 39% of Interparking from Belgium’s AG Insurance, signalling its intent to build a European platform in the sector.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has invested €376 million in Interparking, a European car park operator.

The Canadian pension has bought a 39 percent stake in the company from AG Real Estate, the brick and mortar investment unit of Belgium’s AG Insurance, which will remain Interparking’s majority shareholder with 51 percent. Private investor PARKIMO, an existing shareholder, will retain its 10 percent holding in the business.

Based in Brussels, Interparking manages a portfolio of 657 car parks across 350 cities and nine European countries. Its largest markets are Germany, Belgium and Spain. The company posted €343 million in revenues and about €23 million in profits last year.

The transaction marks CPPIB’s first investment in the car park management sector – which the institution sees as an integral part of its infrastructure programme rather than a real estate play, a spokesperson told Infrastructure Investor.

The spokesperson described the deal as “an excellent opportunity to build our European car park platform,” in a hint that the pension may be scouting for further acquisitions in the sector in the near future.

Although not part of what is traditionally defined as core infrastructure, car parks are among the sectors institutional investors see as displaying similar characteristics to the asset class, as they often provide their operators with stable, predictable cash flows over the long-term with an effective monopoly over their geographical vicinity.

The Interpark deal comes five months after French fund manager Ardian and insurer Credit Agricole Assurances bought 37.5 percent each of Vinci Park, which manages 1.6 million parking spaces across 14 countries, in a transaction that valued the business at €1.96 billion. 

In February last year, Dutch pension fund asset management group APG also teamed up with China Resource Holdings, Macquarie Bank and Wilson Parking Hong Kong to form a £265 million (€334 million; $452 million) vehicle dedicated to the sector.

Other investors to have parked capital in the space include Australia’s QIC, which took on a 50-year contract to manage Ohio State University’s parking operations in June 2012 for $483 million.