China's Sovereign Wealth Fund Invests In Heathrow Airport, Europe's Biggest

 @mflorcruzm.florcruz@ibtimes.com
on November 01 2012 3:37 PM

A subsidiary of the Chinese government’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation (CIC), announced Thursday it has purchased a 10 percent stake in Heathrow Airport Holdings.

The subsidiary, Stable Investment Corp., now holds shares in Heathrow Airport Holdings, previously known as BAA Ltd., which manages London’s Heathrow International Airport and other British airline hubs.  

Heathrow is the busiest arport in Europe by number of passengers and the third-busiest in the world, marking a milestone for Chinese investment around the world. 

According to  reports by Xinhua, the deal is valued at $727 million and marks the CIC’s second investment in British infrastructure. The CIC also holds roughly eight percent in Thames Water, the UK’s largest water supply and wastewater treatment company.

The CIC website announced the deal with a one sentence news release, not divulging any other financial details. However, the Associated Press reports the shares were purchased mainly from Ferrovial, a Spanish company that holds 49.99 percent of Heathrow Airport Holdings, for $415 million, as well as from other shareholders to total 10 percent.

The CIC has been eyeing investments across Europe. China Daily reports the sovereign fund is looking into the high-end property market in Paris as well, focusing on top-tier properties with high values.

China’s investment in Paris is new territory considering it had no investment presence in the French capital until this year. Now, Chinese investments in Paris account for nearly 15 percent of the total foreign property investments this year, second only to Qatar’s 30 percent.  

The CIC was founded in September of 2007 with a registered capital of $200 billion and has seen great success in developing China’s foreign investments. The fund has shifted from investing in mostly European government bonds to overseas real estate and infrastructure, after it reported losses last year. The CIC’s investment in the Deutsche Bank headquarters in London is an example of the new investment direction the fund is starting to take. 

The chairman of the fund was quoted last year saying that investments in the United States and Europe in the energy, water, and transportation sectors where the next steps in diversifying the fund’s portfolio.  

According to CIC’s annual report, its total assets stood at $482 billion at the end of 2011. The fund's investments span various sectors and regions including, Russia, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil.

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