KOREA/UK - The National Pension Service of Korea (NPS), the fifth largest pension fund in the world, has awarded a mandate to UK-based Rockspring Property Investment Managers to invest in prime central London real estate.

Rockspring said it was evaluating a number of possible acquisitions in the Central London market on behalf of the newly established NPS Central London Property Limited Partnership and expects to conclude a number of transactions before the end of 2009.

NPS is seeking acquisitions of trophy assets and so Rockspring is targeting major individual properties, typically prime landmark assets, located in the West End and the City.
The fund manager is targeting individual lot sizes in excess of £150m (€172m), with long leases and strong tenants in the office and retail sector.

Acquisitions can be made with or without debt, which Rockspring said would enable them close on deals "speedily".

Mike Pryer has been appointed fund manager for NPS Central London Property Limited Partnership and will report to chief executive and fund director Robert Gilchrist.

Pryer has experience of managing both segregated and UK-focused funds for Rockspring and will work alongside Hugh Elrington, Rocksprings's head of UK transactions, in sourcing acquisitions for the fund, as well as managing the assets once acquired.

"We are absolutely delighted to be working alongside NPS," said Robert Gilchrist. "We will be working hard to source exceptional opportunities in the central London office and retail market that will deliver the required returns for our investor.

"Given the level of equity available to the fund and its ability to be flexible on gearing for each transaction, we believe the fund will stand out as an attractive potential purchaser in a market that still has limited availability of debt."

NPS is already an investor in Rockspring's Rockspring TransEuropean IV fund, which was created in 1988 and is looking to invest $3bn (€2.09bn) in the future in real estate assets in London, New York, Tokyo and Sydney.