GLOBAL - The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) has acquired a 12.7% stake in London Gatwick Airport from Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

The deal, which cost CalPERS £106m (€127m), follows a similar transaction by South Korea's National Pension Service (NPS) in February.

GIP, an infrastructure fund backed by Credit Suisse and General Electric, has been selling a number of minority stakes in Gatwick after it acquired the airport for £1.5bn from British Airports Authority (BAA) in 2009, following a decision by the UK's Competition Commission to force BAA to sell.

The CalPERS acquisition is the first direct-style investment made as part of its infrastructure programme, which was launched in 2007 with a view to allocating 1.5% of its $200bn total assets under management.

George Diehr, investment committee chair at CalPERS, said: "We are looking for opportunities to invest directly in high-quality infrastructure assets.

"We see it as a good fit for our burgeoning infrastructure programme."

The CalPERS capital commitment covers the equity purchase price and provisions for bridge costs and future administrative expenses.

Gatwick Airport is 28 miles south of London and serves approximately 33m passengers a year, making it the UK's second most active airport and one of the busiest in Europe.

Gatwick's business is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, which approves the airport's regulated asset base and its inflation-linked revenues.