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Greater Manchester Pension Fund takes stake in Airport City project

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The Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF), the pension scheme for the 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester and other bodies such as schools and charities, is to invest in Manchester Airport’s planned £800m (€944m) Airport City development, with a 10% stake in the project.

The development will form the core of a government-designated enterprise zone surrounding the airport, the third-busiest in the UK.

The development – the largest development project in the UK since the Olympic redevelopment in East London – is a joint venture between Manchester Airports Group (MAG) with a 50% share, Beijing Construction Engineering Group and support services company Carillion (20% each) and the GMPF.

Peter Morris, director of pensions at the GMPF, said: “It’s a good investment opportunity. The airport is an international gateway to Manchester, and the scale and location of Airport City is attractive to occupiers, particularly as this development could not be built next to other large airports.”

Morris said the GMPF would regard the investment primarily as capital-related, but with income elements.

He added: “The joint venture will create a series of opportunities over time – for instance, we may become a long-term holder of some of the properties that are built, if we’re offering the best price.”

At present, property makes up around 7% of the pension fund’s £12.5bn portfolio.

Morris said the Airport City investment would be less than 1% of its total assets.

The GMPF’s property development arm, Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund, invests in projects across the North West.

Morris said: “Local investment always has to have twin aims. Commercial success is vital. And we are supporting our local area. It actually helps to be local, as we know the market.”

Construction of Airport City is due to begin next year, with the entire project estimated to take 10-15 years to complete.

Argent has been appointed development manager for the scheme.

MAG launched its search for joint venture partners at the end of 2012, advised by CBRE and Eversheds

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