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The UK’s PIP appoints chief executive(2)

Mike Weston joins the pension-led platform seven months after the organisation launched its first fund, a Dalmore Capital-managed vehicle which has now raised nearly £330m.

The UK’s Pension Infrastructure Platform (PIP) has successfully concluded its hunt for a chief executive by hiring Mike Weston for the top role, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), which stands behind the PIP initiative, announced in a statement today.

Weston’s appointment, effective immediately, ends NAPF’s efforts to find a head of the platform, a task it had undertaken in autumn last year. It comes nearly seven months after the PIP launched its first vehicle, PPP Equity PIP LP, for which it has hired London-based Dalmore Capital as fund manager.

Weston is a seasoned institutional investment practitioner, having been the in-house chief executive for the DMGT pension schemes since 2009, a role that saw him allocate capital to a number of infrastructure funds with varied strategies.

He previously worked as an investment director at asset managers including Hermes and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, and has served on the board and Defined Benefit Council of the NAPF. Since 2013 he has also been an independent trustee of the Institute of Cancer Research pension scheme.

“This is exactly the right time to appoint a chief executive and Mike’s experience in leading pension scheme investments, including extensive investment in infrastructure, makes him ideally suited to this role,” said Joanne Segars, NAPF chief executive, in a statement.

The fund, which has a £500 million (€636 million; $817 million) hard cap, reached a first close on £260 million last February. It now has about “a third of a billion” of limited partner commitments, Segars said, adding that more than £200 million had already been deployed to fund 41 distinct infrastructure assets.

“This appointment is great news for the PIP, its founding investors and all future investors. Mike's expertise and focus will enable PIP to fulfil our vision as a place where pension funds can gain access to the infrastructure investments they need on their own terms,” said Chris Hitchen, chief executive of founding investor Railway Pension Investments (Railpen).

The PIP was launched last year with a target size of £2 billion. Its ambition is to offer exposure to “low-risk” infrastructure investments to participating pensions, with long-term cash returns of 2 percent to 5 percent above inflation and fees of about 50 basis points.

In addition to Railpen, cornerstone investors in the PIP comprise British Airways Pensions, Lloyds TSB pension schemes, the Pension Protection Fund, Strathclyde Pension Fund and the West Midlands Pension Fund.