IFM hires ex Transurban US head

Michael Kulper will be based out of New York and will originate deals for the A$48bn fund manager.

Michael Kulper, who answered the call to run Transurban Group in the US when the private toll road operator spread out from its homeland of Australia, has taken a new role with IFM Investors.

Kulper, who exited Transurban in September, will originate deals for IFM, according to a press release. His official title is executive director, infrastructure, IFM said.

The investment manager, which is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, lauded the hire as “another significant addition” to its North America team, which is located in New York. A spokesman for a media relations agency representing IFM could not confirm why Kulper had left Transurban. Transurban US marketing director Pierce Coffee did not respond to a request for comment.

IFM this year added Wall Street veteran Tom Osborne to its New York office, where Rich Randall, who in October joined the company to build out a US infrastructure debt platform, also has a desk. Osborne came on board from financial services firm UBS, while Randall had been with The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) prior to signing on with IFM. Kulper, like Osborne and Randall, will report to Alec Montgomery, head of infrastructure, North America.

Kulper is credited with being the “founding president” of toll road concessions in North America for Transurban. A long-time investment banker, he also worked for Credit Suisse Group. According to its website, IFM Investors – formerly Industry Funds Management, or IFM – does not currently have a toll road deal in the US in its portfolio. In Australia, the company has a 48-year lease of the M1 in Sydney and is holder of a 33-year concession of the M5 South West Motorway.

Beginning with the 2006 acquisition of State Route 895 (SR 895), or ‘Pocahontas 895’ in Richmond, Virginia, Transurban, the largest toll road company in Australia, expanded into the US public-private partnership (PPP; P3) market. In 2008, Transurban tapped Kulper to head its US business.

The company would go on to acquire the ‘495 Express Lanes’ project, a $2 billion P3 to toll Interstate 495 (I-495) as well as a $1 billion lease involving Interstate 95 (I-95) – both also in Virginia – but it has had its setbacks in the US.  

Over the summer, Transurban relinquished possession of SR 895 and shuffled its executive management, ousting chief executive Chris Lynch and president of international development Ken Daley. The company also closed its New York office.

IFM Investors has A$48 billion (€32 billion; $43 billion) in assets under management (AUM), A$16 billion of which is invested in infrastructure.