Sovereign wealth fund QIC has signed Australia’s former ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, on as a consultant in a drive to raise its profile and attract more institutional money.

Dr Raby starts with QIC today on an ongoing consultancy basis, with periodic reviews. Conversant in Putonghua, he has his own offices in Beijing and will conduct relationship-building activities on behalf of QIC from there. It is understood this hire is seen more as a key step in a bolder investments journey into China for the fund.

Dr Raby retired from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade just last month, having spent the past five years as ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. He has also twice served in Beijing as head of the Australian Embassy’s economic section.

David Addis

QIC has been meeting potential Chinese investors on an itinerant basis for the past three or four years, says David Addis, the firm’s managing director of corporate strategy based in Brisbane.

At present it offers largely Australian domiciled investment funds and has been selling its products to Chinese investors, although it also offers direct asset exposure. Its target investors are sovereign-backed funds and other large institutional investors.

Asked what Dr Raby will bring to the table, Addis tells AsianInvestor: “Almost immediately he will give us easier access than we would otherwise have had to potential investors. He will also give us a base from which to service potential and actual investors out of the China region.

“From that origination base, when revenues get to a certain level we will build our capabilities in that market in a logically incremental way. Things take time in China, but we are patient.”

Asked whether QIC might seek to apply for a qualified institutional foreign investor (QFII) licence, Addis replies: “Yes, at the right time, that is something we would certainly look at, but we have not done so yet.”

QIC also has growth plans for other Asian markets. Its strategy is to establish a marketing and distribution base for its own investment capabilities, which are primarily domestic. Depending on success, it aims to use such bases as a bridgehead and eventually to manage assets in those jurisdictions.

“We will continue to take existing capabilities into Asian markets and if revenue generated warrants it, we will put assets on the ground in those markets,” adds Addis. “Ultimately we would like to start managing assets in Asia, but we are not close to doing that at this moment.”

QIC operates as a house of specialised investment boutiques and manages a total of A$60.2 billion ($64 billion) in assets. Its expertise is centred around its sovereign wealth and multi-asset capabilities, as well as fixed interest (global), real estate, infrastructure (global) and private equity (global). It also has a small domestic equities boutique.

For Asian investors, Addis estimates that QIC manages around A$500 million in listed and unlisted asset classes.