South Korean pension opens for business in London

The world’s fourth-largest pension fund officially opened its London office last week, its second foreign office after New York. The pension spent over £1bn investing in the UK last year, including the acquisition of a 12% stake in Gatwick Airport.

The South Korean National Pension Service (NPS), the world’s fourth-largest pension fund with some $320 billion of assets under management, officially opened its London office last week, its second-only foreign office after New York, the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced.

“Britain is open for business and it’s a vote of confidence in the UK that the world’s fourth-largest pension service is opening a base here,” commented Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. “The investment this brings will be a considerable boost for British jobs, investment for UK infrastructure projects and growth manufacturing,” Clegg added.

NPS was active in the UK infrastructure and real estate markets last year, spending £100 million (€125 million; $156 million) buying a 12 percent stake in London’s Gatwick Airport from Global Infrastructure Partners, the US infrastructure fund manager. In the real estate space, it bought HSBC’s Canary Wharf headquarters for £773 million as well as a pair of smaller purchases for a combined £268 million. 

Outside the UK, NPS acquired a 23.44 percent stake in the US’ Colonial Pipeline for $1 billion last year.

The UK government has been keen to court pension fund investment for its decade-long, £250 billion infrastructure plan, including UK pension money. Chancellor George Osborne is hoping UK pensions will be able to provide up to £20 billion for UK infrastructure over the long term.