Aware Super eyes property, infra investments from London base

Australia's third-largest superannuation fund aims to continue the success of its direct property and infrastructure strategies as it expands globally.
Aware Super eyes property, infra investments from London base

Aware Super’s office in London, projected to be completed by the end of 2023, will allow the Australian pension fund to maximise opportunities in international property, infrastructure, and private equity investments, according to Damien Webb, deputy chief investment officer and head of international.

“For a fund of our scale, with A$160 billion ($102 billion) under management and growing, there’s a whole suite of benefits in having an on-the-ground presence in a global investment hub like London,” Webb told AsianInvestor.

Webb, who will relocate to London in October to oversee the expansion, said that having a physical presence in overseas markets for private market investing gives Aware Super a competitive advantage.

Damien Webb,
Aware Super

“In particular, it will enhance our capacity to source compelling deals in the UK, Europe and internationally by tapping local expertise widely and efficiently,” said Webb.

The local presence will also allow the fund to be closer to its existing portfolio and drive operational uplifts, in addition to being closer to information flows that will better inform investment decisions, he said.

“To achieve that, we’re aiming to have up to 14 staff – local hires in addition to some staff moving from Australia – by the end of this year. We’ll be leveraging our existing networks across the UK and Europe as well as building new ones.”

While no rigid headcount has been set for the London office over the next three years, Webb believes the super fund will have 30 to 40 people by the end of 2026.

“Across our broader investment team, both in Australia and abroad, we expect we’ll have around 200 people helping the fund manage A$250 billion ($160 billion) in assets globally at that point.”  

Aware Super also plans to open a second overseas office in North America within the next 3-4 years.


Australian superannuation funds are increasingly looking overseas and towards private assets for growth. The country’s pension industry is now the world’s fifth-largest system with total combined assets of around $1.9 trillion and these funds are seeking to invest that capital directly in companies and assets.

From its London office, Aware Super plans to increase its direct investments in private equity, property, and infrastructure assets, said Webb.

Also read: AustralianSuper plans to double global team in three years

The fund plans to invest several billion dollars in these asset classes in the coming years, with a significant portion allocated to international markets, making the move to diversify geographically and gain exposure to different assets directly in line with the Aware Super's strategy.

“We’ve already had significant success with our direct property and infrastructure strategies internationally,” he said.

“In real estate, we have a strong focus on the living and logistics sectors. We’re looking to grow our exposure to the living sector – including in build-to-rent, senior living and other mixed-use developments – materially. Digital infrastructure and the energy transition are two areas we’re focused on in infrastructure.”

Aware Super already has an existing portfolio of digital and energy transition infrastructure assets among its international private asset holdings.

In 2021, the fund partnered with Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets to acquire Vocus Group, a telecommunications provider, and subsequently merged the Vocus New Zealand business with 2degrees, another New Zealand telecommunications provider.

In terms of energy transition assets, Aware Super's investments are diversified across various platforms, including Intera Renewables and Tilt Renewables in Australia, Terragen Renewables in the US, and Generate Capital for emerging and ancillary, smaller-scale investments in the US.


As Aware Super increases its offshore investments, “the value of having access to early deals speaks for itself,” said Webb.

“By leveraging our on-the-ground presence in London and using the networks we already have in Europe more efficiently, we’ll be far better placed to secure an ‘early mover’ advantage in deal making,” he said.

Also read: Aware Super in overseas expansion mode after new hires

The London hub will also allow the fund to become less reliant on external investment managers, which ultimately is beneficial for members.

“By bringing more asset management in-house, reducing our reliance on external investment managers, we’ll also be reducing costs for our members. And further diversifying our portfolio with additional quality investments internationally will reduce investment risk and help in delivering strong long-term returns.”

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