Exclusive: Australia’s Cbus targets A$1bn direct investment

The A$34bn super fund is also looking to recruit three infrastructure specialists as it looks to bolster its investment in greenfield and small to medium-sized brownfield assets.

Melbourne-based Construction and Building Unions Superannuation Fund, known as Cbus, will aim to invest around A$1 billion ($755 million; €674 million) across a new direct infrastructure strategy over the next five years, Cbus’ executive manager of investment strategy Kristian Fok exclusively told Infrastructure Investor.

The exact amount invested will be dependent on market opportunities available and the success rate converting opportunities into transactions, he added. Fok said that the fund has been focussing on the significant amount of direct investment opportunities for Cbus in greenfield infrastructure and small-to medium-sized brownfield assets, while retaining current external managers. 

To deliver the strategy three professionals will join the two existing executives in the infrastructure team this year. Further growth in the team is anticipated in future years as opportunities are identified and assets are added to the direct portfolio. Earlier in February, Cbus appointed Diana Callebaut, a former KPMG director, as its infrastructure manager. 

More generally the super fund is ramping up its efforts to build in-house investment capacity as it expects to grow from A$34 billion to over A$50 billion in the next three to five years. The super fund is looking to expand its in-house investment team from 34 to 59 this financial year. 

The expansion of investment capacity also involves roles in internal Australian and international equities management, as well as expertise in investment legal and compliance, middle-office operations, communications, risk management and performance reporting. 

The recruitment drive follows the approval of Cbus’ new investment strategy that will see the fund focus on taking advantage of long-term investment horizon and taking a total portfolio approach to invest in assets that have a positive impact on the real economy, particularly through the built environment. 

“Extracting maximum value and returns while minimising outflows, especially through fees, are key measures that will be used to assess future investment opportunities,” said the super fund in a statement. 

The super fund has a target allocation of 11 percent for the infrastructure asset class.