UK - BP's UK pension fund has launched a joint venture that will give the £13.8bn (€19bn) scheme access to central London assets as part of a broader drive to increase its exposure to property.

The 50:50 JV, between the scheme's real estate subsidiary Ropemaker and Great Portland Estates (GPE), will reinvest the funds BP Pension Fund gained from the sale of its £540m (€680m) Knightsbridge commercial and retail portfolio to Quinlan in 2005.

The Great Ropemaker Partnership will initially comprise a single asset - a development site acquired by GPE for £20.5m. With fees, the site acquisition is valued at £27.5m but buildings currently on the site are being demolished to make way for an 18-storey commercial and residential scheme.

"The joint venture will give us access to a scale of developments and projects we haven't had before. From the perspective of pension fund trustees, it offers exposure in the portfolio allocation to property," said a spokesman for the BP pension fund.

"If you look at Great Portland's other joint ventures, it has added [properties] to them," Gordon Simpson, spokesman for GPE, told IPE Real Estate. "But it isn't clear where this one will go. Real estate is in flux. The partners will make decisions in due course."

Other GPE joint ventures include one with Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society, and separate partnerships set up to invest in central London property with Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and the Great Capital Partnership with Liberty International.

The BP pension fund's UK portfolio currently includes greenbelt land outside Harlow, in the east of England, which is controversially earmarked for a new satellite town. The pension fund acquired the land as an agricultural real estate investment in 1979.