South Korean Pension Taking 12% Stake in Gatwick Airport

LONDON (Reuters) – South Korea’s national pension fund is to take a 12 percent stake in London’s Gatwick airport next week for just under 100 million pounds ($159.3 million), the Financial Times reports in its Tuesday edition.

Gatwick, London’s biggest airport after Heathrow, was bought last year by Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity fund controlled by Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) and General Electric Co (GE.N).

Global Infrastructure Partners could not be reached for comment on the report.

Korea’s National Pension Service is the world’s fifth-biggest pension fund with 270 trillion Korean won ($259.4 billion) in assets by December last year.

It has said it aims for its assets to grow to 400 trillion won by 2012 and has been building a global presence in the past year, buying HSBC’s (HSBA.L) European headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf for $1.3 billion, one of the world’s biggest property transactions in 2009.

The Financial Times said the Gatwick deal would be financed with bank debt accounting for 45 percent of the purchase price.

Earlier this month, the pension fund signed an agreement to buy a prime office building in Sydney, which it said was part of a plan to expand its investment in prime real estate globally this year. It also announced last month that it planned to start direct management of its foreign equities portfolios soon rather than outsourcing stock management. ($1=.6278 Pound)($1=1040.8 Won) (Reporting by Susan Fenton; Editing by Gary Hill)