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AustralianSuper opens London investment office

The Melbourne-based pension giant currently employs two investment professionals in London with expertise in real estate and infrastructure.

AustralianSuper, Australia’s largest private pension fund, has opened an investment office in London.

The office has been operating since the summer and is the only location in Europe where staff from the Melbourne-based pension fund are based.

“AustralianSuper does have staff based in London as a result of its increasing involvement in direct investments, particularly global property and infrastructure deals,” confirmed AustralianSuper spokesman and head of external relations, Stephen McMahon.

The pension manager currently employs two people in the office, including Trish Curry, who will lead its activities.

AustralianSuper is a profit for member organization that has more than A$100 billion ($75.5 billion; €67.5 billion) of assets under management. The fund has more than 2.1 million members drawn from over 220,000 business. It manages the retirement funds of one in ten working Australians.

The investor has been on an overseas acquisitions spree, led by plans to have 10 percent of its total assets allocated to real estate over the next three to four years. According to PERE Research, AustralianSuper has a long-term target allocation of 9 percent to real estate. The super fund is active in direct investment as it aims to manage around 35 percent of its investment portfolio internally by the year 2018.

At the start of this year, the pension fund put more money to work in the UK when it raised its stake in the King's Cross commercial, residential and leisure project from 25 percent to 67.5 percent after initially buying a stake in the project from the UK Government for £370 million.

In March this year, it acquired a 25 percent stake in the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii from the real estate investment trust, General Growth Properties. The investor is understood to have invested nearly A$1.1 billion in equity for the deal, along with the assumption of A$650 million in debt, making it the firm’s largest single direct real estate investment to date.

Since then, AustralianSuper formed a joint venture partnership in May with Brookfield Property Partners to acquire a 49 percent stake in an office property in Boston, in a deal which is understood to have valued the property at $605 million.

And earlier this month, the firm announced it had picked Bentall Kennedy to manage its investments in Canadian real estate. The Toronto-based real estate advisor received a mandate to pursue real estate investments across property types throughout the country, the mandate is AustralianSuper’s first investment in Canadian real estate.