Australia's Aware Super, the country's third-largest superannuation fund, has announced plans to establish its first overseas office in London and is eyeing North America for its second location.
The London office will initially focus on private equity, property, and infrastructure investments in the UK, Europe, and North America, according to media reports. It also said it planned to double its offshore real estate exposure to 40% over the next three to five years.
“This scale means we have to diversify offshore to find relevant assets that will generate the strongest risk-adjusted returns for our portfolios. We selected the UK as our first overseas base as it is one of the world’s most important, developed capital markets,” Michael Winchester, head of investment strategy told AsianInvestor.
“With an on-the-ground presence, we aim to leverage our existing networks and investment partnerships in the UK to further identify other strong origination opportunities, initially across property, infrastructure and private equity, and with a focus on direct investments,” he said.
The London office is expected to be opened by November, while the North American office is expected to be opened within the next three to four years, media reports said.
Aware Super, which manages A$160 billion ($102.58 billion) in assets, aims to increase assets to A$250 billion by 2026 according to Winchester.
Aware’s real estate property portfolio is currently valued at over A$1.5 billion ($970 million) and encompasses the industrial, residential, office, and retail spaces. They also have a significant development pipeline of over A$2 billion.
Aware Super’s broader property portfolio, including Aware Real Estate, is valued at around A$8.5 billion and includes retirement living and service apartments as well.
To support its expansion plans, Aware Super has made significant hires in the last few weeks.
Simon Warner has been appointed as the head of portfolio management, responsible for overseeing the fund's public and private market equities, property, and infrastructure portfolios.
Meanwhile, Justin Howell has been named the chief operating officer for investments, leading the investment team's strategy and business activities.
Both Warner and Howell will report to chief investment officer Damian Graham.
Warner joins Aware Super from local investment manager AMP Capital, where he served as the global head of public markets.
Howell, on the other hand, was previously the global chief operating officer at Pendal Group, another Australian investment firm. The appointments will be effective from September.
The establishment of the London office and the addition of Warner and Howell are part of Aware Super's strategic efforts to strengthen its global presence and enhance its investment capabilities.
With the further announcement of a North American office in the works, the fund aims to position itself as a global player in the superannuation industry and expand its investment opportunities to deliver value in an increasingly globalised market.