AMP hires Access execs, opens New York office

The Australian asset manager has hired Tom Majewski and three other infrastructure investment professionals from Access to found the firm's New York-based infrastructure team, which will open up shop next week.

AMP Capital Investors, the private investment arm of Australian wealth manager and insurer AMP Limited, is setting up shop in New York with a dedicated infrastructure investment team.

The office will open next week, according to a person familiar with the firm, and will include four former executives of Access Capital Advisers, an Australian asset manager.

Tom Majewski

The four founding members of the AMP infrastructure team, Tom Majewski, Damien McDonald, Digby Beaumont and Farhad Billimoria, were all infrastructure investment professionals at Access' Stamford, Connecticut office.

They left last month to join AMP in a surprise departure that caught even Access' chairman, David Chessell, off guard.

Majewski will lead the new US infrastructure team at AMP and will report to Philip Garling, AMP's Sydney-based global head of infrastructure.

For AMP, a long-standing Australian infrastructure investor, the hiring of the Access team represents a bold entry into the North American market.

The firm has been investing in infrastructure since 1988, when it bought into the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. It inked its first Asian infrastructure deal in 1994 and today also has a European investment team led by Richard Shields in London. But – until now – it has not had a dedicated North American infrastructure team.

For Access Capital, the hiring-away of its infrastructure team comes as an obvious challenge. But the firm is moving fast to rebuild.

Chessell, the Access chairman, is in New York at the moment overseeing the hiring and has brought with him Sydney-based Charles Ridler. Additionally, he has already hired back a former Access executive, Andrew Cunanan, who is now back on the job in New York.

“The aim is to rebuild the office to a team of five,” he said, adding that ideally he would like to find candidates who have experience in both infrastructure debt and equity.

Access, which specialises in making direct investments on behalf of Australian superannuation funds, had been becoming increasingly active on the debt front. In March, the firm invested $45 million in Build America Bonds, a new type of municipal debt security, on behalf of one of its Australian pension clients.

Majewski helped engineer the Build America Bond transaction.

Other deals have included equity investments in Macquarie-backed deals such as airport luggage cart operator Smarte Carte and Pittsburgh electric utility Duquesne Light Holdings.

Since Access opened up its US office in 2007 it has inked eight deals, Chessell said.

Access has been investing in infrastructure since 1997 and today has about A$3.5 billion ($3.1 billion; €2.4 billion) of assets under management.