The Universities Superannuation Scheme has grown its private markets team, hiring six new staff, including one from BP UK’s in-house manager.

The £49bn (€66.9bn) industry-wide fund said the expansion of the team came at a time when private market investments already accounted for approximately 20% of assets.

Anna Barath, Diogo Belo, Fabienne Trevere, Hesham Hussein and Tom Kelly have joined USS Investment Management as analysts.

Barath and Belo join from Moody’s, while Barath has also worked for NATO.

Trevere and Hussein have worked within the UK banking sector, as M&A analyst for HSBC and corporate banking analyst for RBS, respectively.

Kelly worked for family office KGB prior to joining USS and also has experience as an investment banking analyst at Evercore.

Lastly, the fund has hired Emma Singh as an associate to help manage its direct portfolio. Singh previously worked for BP Investment Management, the in-house manager for the oil company’s UK pension fund, where she was private equity controller.

Mike Powell, head of the private markets group at USS, said he was very pleased to welcome the new hires, which bring the headcount at USS IM to 30, including 11 analysts.

“Our direct investment programme continues to expand, consistent with our core investment beliefs,” he said, “not least that utilising our in-house team can deliver superior risk-adjusted returns, and brings additional benefits for our members in terms of alignment of interests and greater governance over our investments.”

The private markets team has recently completed a deal that saw the schem acquire Moto Mospitality.

The fund also owns a nearly 50% stake in NATS, the body in charge of air traffic control of British airspace.

The UK government earlier this week confirmed it would explore the sale of its remaining 49% stake, likely to attract interest from USS. 

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.