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USS buys service station operator Moto

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The £49bn (€66.9bn) Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has acquired the UK’s largest motorway service station operator for an undisclosed sum.

USS said in a statement it reached two separate, definitive agreements that will see it acquire a 100% stake in Moto Hospitality, which comes only a few months after the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System were part of a consortium to buy Germany’s Tank & Rast.

The acquisition of Moto comes after reports that Australian infrastructure fund manager Macquarie, the previous majority owner, was looking to liquidate its stake, bought in 2006 as part of a £1.8bn sale of the company.

The UK’s largest pension fund said it acquired a 82.5% stake in Moto from an unnamed group of institutional investors.

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The remaining 17.5% was owned by New Zealand-based Equity Partners Infrastructure Company (EPIC), which announced over the summer it was discussing the sale of its stake to an undisclosed bidder.

In a statement to shareholders, EPIC said the sale resulted in a “very good” valuation but declined to disclose a price.

In March 2012, EPIC has NZD92m (€56.5m) in assets under management, with its stake in Moto its only asset.

At the end of March, USS had 21.4% in private market assets, including infrastructure, property and inflation-linked debt.

It returned 17.9% over the course of the 2014-15 financial year.

In July, it announced it entered a £130m direct inflation swap deal with Yorkshire Water, building on its past activities with regulated utilities that saw it in 2013 provide £100m in debt to Affinity Water.

Its other infrastructure holdings include a stake in London’s Heathrow Airport and part of the rail line connecting Australian city Brisbane with its airport.

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