OTPP now sole owner of Bristol Airport

Ontario Teachers’ now owns 100% of Bristol Airport having acquired Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund’s 50% stake.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada, is now sole owner of Bristol International Airport after Macquarie Group agreed to sell the 50 percent stake it held in the asset through its European infrastructure fund, Macquarie said in a statement.

Bristol Airport, which serves the south-west of England, has become the UK’s ninth-busiest airport serving more than 6 million passengers in 2013. That is a significant increase compared with the 2.7 million passengers it was handling in 2001 when Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund (MEIF), one of four Macquarie funds focusing on Europe, invested in the asset. OTPP first bought a stake in 2002.

Neither Macquarie nor OTPP disclosed the amount of the transaction, which is expected to close at the end of September, but media reports have placed it between £200 million (€254.4 million; $327.8 million) and £250 million.

“Macquarie and Teachers’ have been instrumental in supporting the expansion of the Airport’s route network and enhanced facilities for passengers,” Bristol Airport’s chief executive Robert Sinclair said. Currently, the airport’s route network includes 107 destinations served by 13 airlines.

MEIF, managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), is a 2004-vintage fund that closed in mid-2005 on €1.5 billion with a focus on European OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries.

In July, MIRA exited another investment it had made through MEIF, selling its shareholding in Sweden’s A-Train, the operator and manager of the Arlanda Express and Arlanda Rail Link (Arlandabanan), for an undisclosed sum.

MIRA, a division of Australia’s Macquarie, is an alternative asset manager specialising in infrastructure, real estate, agriculture and other real asset classes via public and private funds, co-investments, partnerships and separately managed accounts.

Toronto-based OTPP is an independent organisation that invests the pension fund’s assets and administers the defined benefit pensions of 307,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario. Of its C$140.8 billion (€99.7 billion; $128.4 billion) portfolio, C$11.7 billion is allocated to infrastructure, an asset class the pension fund began investing in in 2001.

OTPP invests across a range of infrastructure sub-sectors, including transportation, energy, water and waste. The bulk of its infrastructure portfolio, however, is dedicated to transportation (56 percent), while energy accounts for 24 percent and water and waste represent the remaining 20 percent.

In terms of the airport sector specifically, OTPP also holds a 29 percent stake in the UK’s third-largest airport – Birmingham International; a 30 percent interest in Copenhagen Airport; and a 39 percent stake in Brussels Airport.