IFM chief executive Brett Himbury to retire in 2020

The Australian fund manager will shortly begin a global search to replace Brett Himbury, who said it has been a ‘privilege’ to lead IFM for more than nine years.

The long-serving chief executive of Melbourne-headquartered fund manager IFM Investors, Brett Himbury, is to retire from executive duties by December 2020.

After more than 9 years at the helm, Himbury will retire in December 2020.

Himbury joined IFM as chief executive in 2010 from Tyndall Investment Management and has seen the firm’s funds under management grow from A$23.6 billion ($16.0 billion; €14.5 billion) when he joined, to A$149 billion as of 31 August 2019 – a compound annual growth rate of 21.9 percent.

IFM’s client base has grown from 52 to 396 during his tenure and pre-tax profits grew from A$9.4 million in 2010 to A$116.7 million this year.

The manager is owned by 27 Australian industry superannuation funds, which are run on a profit-for-member basis.

Major successes under Himbury’s watch include leading the consortium that won the right to manage Port Botany and Port Kembla in New South Wales for 99 years in a A$5 billion deal in 2013 and snapping up NSW electricity distributor Ausgrid for A$16.2 billion in 2016 with an unsolicited bid just two weeks after Australia’s federal government blocked a Chinese offer on national security grounds.

In a statement, Himbury said: “It has been a privilege to lead one of the best performing businesses in the highly competitive world of global funds management.

“Our member-first purpose has driven superior performance. Over 10 years, our shareholder return to industry super funds has been 17.8 percent – nearly double the ASX 200 average. We’ve been able to achieve this by recognising that if we first serve our members, strong shareholder returns will follow – rather than the other way around. That is something unique in a global context – and all Australians can be proud of that.”

The fund manager said that a global search for Himbury’s successor will commence shortly and he will work closely with the IFM team and board to facilitate a smooth transition.

“I look forward to my next era as a non-executive and to contributing to a small range of organisations in board and advisory roles,” Himbury said.

IFM chair Greg Combet said that the board was “grateful” to Himbury for his service and that it was enthusiastic about the opportunities that lay ahead.

The fund manager had A$57.4 billion invested in infrastructure at end of June 2019, primarily through two open-ended equity funds, the IFM Global Infrastructure Fund and the IFM Australian Infrastructure Fund.

IFM is also in the process of launching its first-ever closed-end infrastructure fund, according to documents published by Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds at its annual meeting on 11 September.

The pension said IFM was in internal discussions about setting up the new fund, which could come to market before the end of 2019 and will target as much as $2 billion. It will share the same investment team as IFM’s Global Infrastructure Fund and will have a contiguous risk-reward profile, targeting core and core-plus assets.

In the documents, IFM was said to be planning to allocate all deals to its GIF and AIF funds first with any remaining allocation flowing to the proposed new fund. Allocations would be decided based on the revenue and risk profile, geography and size of each asset.

The new fund could also look to target telecommunications assets, including data centres, which would be a new area for IFM.

This “value-add” fund would target a 12-15 percent net return, compared with the 10-12 percent return targeted by the open-ended GIF.

IFM did not respond to a request for comment on the new closed-end fund.