GLOBAL - The pension fund Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) has reached an agreement with the Australian group MAp Airports (MAp) to swap interests in several airports.

Under the agreement, OTPP will exchange its 11% stake in Sydney airport for MAp’s 39% stake in Brussels airport and a 30% stake in the Copenhagen facility.

Stephen Dowd, senior vice-president of OTPP’s infrastructure Group said: “Brussels and Copenhagen Airports are excellent opportunities that strongly reflect our investment criteria and our long-term investment horizon.”

As part of the deal, MAp will also receive an AUD$791m (€596m) cash payment from the Canadian pension plan.

OTPP first invested in airports in 2002 and since then has extended its portfolio with recent acquisitions.

In 2007, the pension fund acquired a 48.25% stake in Birmingham International Airport alongside an Australian partner, Victorian Funds Management (VFM).

The two partners bought the 48.25% interest from Macquarie and Aer Rianta in a deal that reached as much as £420m (€478m) at that time.

In 2009, OTPP - which already owned a 14% stake in Bristol International Airport (BIA) - acquired an additional 35.5% interest in the facility from Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund (MEIF), bringing its total participation in the airport to around 49%.

Dowd had justified the pension fund’s stake increase in BIA, saying: “As an experienced investor in the sector and a Bristol shareholder for several years, we have strong confidence in the airport’s outlook and future prospects, and we are fully supportive of its long-term development strategy.”

The pension fund focuses primarily on long-term infrastructure investments, such as airports, water and power plants, electricity and gas distribution networks and port facilities, which provide stable returns that correlate well with inflation.

As of 31 December 2010, OTPP’s infrastructure portfolio reached CAD$7.1bn (€5.25bn).