Manchester's Gatwick bid lures pension fund investors

Gatwick airport is managing to attract pension funds as direct investors

The airport operator battling Citigroup and GE-linked funds to buy London's Gatwick airport has drafted in one of the UK’s biggest pension schemes to strengthen its bid, sending a clear signal that pension funds are increasingly willing to offer direct support to big infrastructure schemes like this.

Manchester Airports Group has brought in Greater Manchester Pension Fund as a minority partner in the consortium, according to Reuters. It is already working with Canadian infrastructure investor Borealis.

The fund manages public sector pensions for the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester, who also own MAG. At 9.23 billion pounds in 2008, it is one of Britain's largest funded pension schemes.

Up to half of the bid could be in equity, in another sign of the scarcity of credit at the moment.