Global head of infrastructure debt Andrew Jones has left AMP Capital as part of a leadership reshuffle that has seen three other senior company members depart. The exits come at a time of some unease over Boe Pahari’s June appointment as chief executive.
In the most eye-catching change, the firm’s head of infrastructure debt in the US, Patrick Trears, will succeed Jones as global head of infrastructure debt, effective immediately.
AMP Capital declined to comment on the reason for Jones’s departure. But Infrastructure Investor understands his role was made redundant after the firm decided to shift the leadership of its infrastructure debt strategy to North America, one of its largest markets for current and potential clients and deal opportunities. Emma Haight-Cheng and Simon La Greca – heads of infrastructure debt for Europe and Asia, respectively – will continue in their roles.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Andrew Jones whose contribution to AMP Capital over his 20 years with the business in Sydney has been enormous,” Pahari said in a statement. “He has done an outstanding job to build our infrastructure debt business, particularly the establishment of our market-leading infrastructure debt strategy, and he has recruited a strong and diverse team who will continue to grow the business globally.”
As part of the reshuffle, infrastructure equity partner Simon Ellis has been promoted to head of Americas, with infrastructure equity partners Matt Evans and Ruben Bhagobati appointed as co-heads of Europe. The trio will also form part of a new global partners group, a team of senior leaders from across AMP Capital, that will report to Pahari.
Leaving AMP Capital, in addition to Jones, are: acting chief financial officer Adrian Williams, who is stepping down for personal reasons; director of people, culture and corporate ESG Madeleine Mac Mahon, who AMP Capital said had chosen to resign; and global head of property Carmel Hourigan, who has left to take up the role of office chief executive at Charter Hall.
The raft of changes comes after Pahari was appointed as CEO of AMP Capital in June 2020, succeeding Adam Tindall, after the latter’s five years in the role.
Pahari’s appointment has come under scrutiny in the Australian media since he assumed the role on 1 July, after the Australian Financial Review revealed the board of AMP Ltd had appointed him despite knowing he had been financially penalised in 2018, following the settlement of a sexual harassment claim brought against him by a female subordinate.
The complaint was raised in 2017 over comments made by Pahari. AMP commissioned an external investigation, which identified “lower level breaches” of its code of conduct. In addition to the financial penalty, Pahari also received “counselling for his conduct”, the firm said in a statement.
In a memo from AMP chairman David Murray and CEO Francesco de Ferrari, seen by Infrastructure Investor, the AMP board said a wide range of criteria had been used to assess Pahari’s appointment, including “extensive consideration” of the 2017 complaint.
“The current group board was advised of the matter prior to the appointment and another review was undertaken. Following that review, all board members were satisfied by the thoroughness of the investigation and the process followed, and that the consequences applied to the executive were both significant and appropriate,” the memo said.
“The board’s view was the matter was dealt with properly at the time and procedural fairness was followed. The board in no way condones the behaviour involved in the matter and has heard the wide-ranging views expressed internally.”
Those views include employees who disagree with the board’s decision, as reported by the AFR. But there have also been supportive voices. A letter sent to the board by nine senior women who worked with Pahari in the UK – also seen by Infrastructure Investor – supported Pahari’s appointment and denied there was a “systemic issue” with harassment or inappropriate behaviour at the AMP Capital London office.
In their memo, Murray and de Ferrari added that Pahari had “apologised and shown contrition for the comments made and his behaviour”, and that he “has the mandate” from them to continue driving AMP Capital’s international growth.
Pahari’s appointment has led to Australian asset consultant JANA moving last week to place all AMP Capital investment strategies ‘on watch’.
“JANA is recommending a temporary pause on investments with AMP Capital while we evaluate AMP’s ongoing response to concerns raised around the appointment. During this period JANA will not recommend any AMP Capital strategies to clients or recommend that clients add to any existing investments,” JANA CEO Jim Lamborn said.
He added JANA is engaging with AMP “around a range of initiatives it is proposing around diversity, inclusiveness and embedding appropriate staff behaviours into its culture and operations” and will review its ‘on watch’ status based on the progress of these initiatives.
An AMP spokesman said: “We continue to engage with investors and clients, and are committed to keeping them informed of the initiatives we have under way to drive inclusion and diversity across our business.”
The firm said the leadership group whose appointments were announced this week will, alongside the existing executive team, develop and deliver an update to AMP’s strategy that will be announced with AMP Ltd’s half-year results on 13 August.
— Bruno Alves contributed to this report.