The world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds and their investments into airports

Recently, CAPA - Centre for Aviation reported on interest allegedly coming from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund (SWF), in London Heathrow Airport where Ferrovial may sell some or all of its stock.

The Saudis are not yet committed to the airport sector in the UK (while they are to sport - Newcastle United Football Club, and Abu Dhabi owns Manchester City), but they must have noticed that six SWFs already are part-owners of three London airports.

In fact, London is the nexus of financial sector interest in airports - partly on account of London being one of the leading centres in the world for such activities, as well as collectively the world’s biggest hub for air transport activities. Not to mention that it is open to foreign business.

If there is to be further airport M&A activity from SWFs it is in cities like London where it is most likely to happen. Conversely, there is no set pattern otherwise to those investments elsewhere, and half of the Top 15 SWFs aren’t directly into airports at all.

This report investigates each of those Top 15 SWFs individually.

Report Summary:

  • Of the top 15 Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs), half are active in the air transport sector and have gained in prominence there in recent years.
  • Airports historically appeal to SWFs for a variety of reasons, and CAPA’s investors directory lists 18 of those SWFs with financial interests in the sector.
  • On the other hand, some that might be expected to play a part have yet to make any direct investments in the sector.
  • There is a broad geographic spread of invested airports, which (in the main) are primary airports and hubs.
  • The biggest attraction is London, where three airports are partly owned by six SWFs.
  • The report analyses the top 15 SWFs for their exposure to the airport sector.