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A Qantas Airways plane passes a radar tower after landing at Sydney Airport April 29, 2013.

DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board is buying the airports unit of construction group Hochtief in a deal valued at $1.4-billion (U.S.).

The division – Hochtief AirPort GmbH– has interests in the airports of Athens, Budapest, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Tirana.

The deal, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, is expected to close in the second half of 2013.

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Like its fellow public pension plan managers, Ottawa-based PSP Investments is out to diversify its portfolio, with increased activity in infrastructure, real estate and private equity.

Earlier this year, it bought a 50-per-cent stake in the TD Canada Trust office tower in downtown Toronto from OMERS for $465-million (Canadian).

For its part, Hochtief is selling assets in airports and real estate as part of a shift to a focus on ground transportation and energy infrastructure projects.

Hochtief is controlled by Spain's Grupo ACS.

"The transaction is the result of a very competitive tendering process. We will use the released funds as planned to reduce debt and to invest in the operating infrastructure business," Hochtief chief executive officer Marcelino Fernandez Verdes said in a news release Tuesday.

"Hochtief AirPort is passing into the hands of a long-term and trustworthy investor which will continue to support the airports business in a responsible manner," said Peter Sassenfeld, chief financial officer and member of Hochtief's executive board.

PSP Investments had net assets totalling $64.5-billion at the end of March, 2013. It manages investment portfolios for the federal Public Service, the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and the Reserve Force.

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