Academics set to land a fifth of Nats

University academics are poised to own a fifth of Nats, Britain's air traffic controller, after their pension fund beat a German state agency to buy the stake, thought to be worth about £160m.

Germany's state-owned airspace controller Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) had been the leading contender to buy a slice of its British counterpart, but the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), Britain's second-biggest pension plan, is this week expected to be announced as preferred bidder for the Nats holding.

The move could trigger criticism as insiders claim DFS submitted a higher bid for Nats, and had given undertakings not to seek control the airports business. They said the foreign bid was opposed by some airlines and had come up against political reservations.

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