QIC-APG consortium acquires 36% stake in Brussels Airport

The consortium, which also includes Swiss Life, purchased the stake from Macquarie for an undisclosed sum. QIC will hold part of its stake in its global infrastructure fund.

A consortium comprising QIC, Dutch pension APG and insurer Swiss Life has acquired a 36 percent stake in Brussels Airport.

APG and QIC will each hold 16.8 percent stakes in the airport, with Swiss Life holding 2.4 percent. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

QIC’s stake is split between its QIC Global Infrastructure Fund and a mandate on behalf of an institutional investor. It is the fifth asset in which QGIF has invested and the second outside Australia, following a deal to manage car parking for 50 years at Northeastern University in the US city of Boston.

The consortium acquired its stake from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets. The firm’s 2004-vintage Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund held a 10 percent stake while its 2008-vintage Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 3 owned 26 percent.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan holds a 39 percent stake in the airport. It is understood to have waived its pre-emption rights to Macquarie’s stake to allow the sale to proceed.

The Belgian government holds the remaining 25 percent stake through its investment company SFPI-FPIM.

Speaking to Infrastructure Investor, QIC global head of infrastructure Ross Israel said the fund manager viewed gateway airports as a “really resilient” type of transport asset. He added that QIC had been seeking to include such an asset in QGIF when the right opportunity arose.

“We like aviation as a subsector in the transport space, particularly an airport with diversified airline and traffic risk like this,” he said. Israel said the top three airlines at Brussels Airport comprised just 53 percent of total volumes, and that there was room to expand the presence of low-cost carriers. He added that the airport’s current low-cost carrier volume of 16 percent was well below the European average of 30 percent.

Israel said that overseas passenger traffic makes up just 20 percent of overall volumes at the airport, thus offering room for expansion: “It’s the largest airport in Belgium and one of the 25 busiest airports in Europe. It processes about 25 million passengers [annually], with a solid growth rate since 2012 in excess of 5 percent.

“What’s really positive is that it has capacity for 30 million passengers, and that’s expected to increase to over 40 million by 2040. It has an attractive growth capacity.”

He confirmed that QGIF has now invested almost 50 percent of its A$2.35 billion (€1.5 billion; $1.7 billion) of committed capital. QIC held a final close on the fund in March 2017 after exceeding its fundraising target.

Israel said the fund had “a number of prospective” deals in the pipeline and was targeting sectors including distributed energy, energy storage, energy-from-waste, healthcare and digital infrastructure.