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VicSuper appoints CIO amid higher infra exposure

The $12.6bn Australian super fund revised its allocation to real assets, including infrastructure and real estate, from 15% to 18% in May.

VicSuper has appointed Andrew Howard as chief investment officer, replacing Oscar Fabian who retired in August after spending six years at the fund. 

Howards will join the A$16.4 billion ($12.6 billion; €11.4 billion) super fund from Australian asset manager Pacific Current Group, where he already served as CIO. He will start in his new role on 23 November. 

VicSuper, one of Australia’s fastest-growing super funds, has seen its assets base double in size over the past five years. The fund revised its investment strategies in May to increase its allocation to real assets, which include infrastructure and real estate, to 18 percent – a rise it compensated by reducing its exposure to equities. It had 15 percent of its portfolio invested in real assets as of June 2016. 

Against a backdrop of low inflation and macroeconomic uncertainty, the fund said in its annual report that it believed assets with a positive yield, such as real estate, infrastructure and higher-dividend equities, would continue to be in demand. 

“The appointment allows us to continue to execute on our growth strategy and deliver long-term value for our members. Howards brings a unique set of skills allowing us to continue to grow the portfolio and develop investment strategies to enhance the fund’s retirement income solutions,” said Michael Dundon, chief executive of VicSuper. 

In September 2015, the fund awarded a mandate to Palisade Investment Partners aiming to generate long-term returns from Australian mid-market infrastructure assets. 

VicSuper also invests in domestic infrastructure through a mandate managed by Hastings Funds Management and targets the asset class globally through funds committed to Colonial First State Asset Management. IFM Investors helps it gain exposure to both markets.