Whitehelm Capital appoints CEO

Gary Withers will head up the new Sydney-based infrastructure investment firm which launched in April this year.

Whitehelm Capital, formed from the merger of Challenger Limited’s infrastructure division with Access Capital Advisers, has announced Gary Withers as its new chief executive officer (CEO).

Whitehelm, which had A$4 billion (€2.8 billion; $3.8 billion) under management at the end of April, commenced formally on 1 July. Withers will join the business on 4 August and “initially” be based in Sydney.

Withers joins from fund manager First State Investments in the UK where he was CEO, having previously held CEO roles at Credit Suisse Asset Management and Aviva Life.

“Gary has extensive global funds management CEO experience internationally and his skills and relationships will benefit Whitehelm’s future international opportunities and partnerships,” said Whitehelm chairman Janet Torney in a statement.

When the merger was announced in April, former Access Capital Advisers CEO Graham Matthews was appointed interim CEO of Whitehelm – in addition to his chief investment officer (CIO) role – while executive search firm Egon Zehnder hunted for someone to fill the role on a permanent basis. Matthews continues as CIO.

Whitehelm is 70 percent-owned by employees of the business. Matthews and Access’s former head of Australian investments Tom Snow hold 23 percent each, with a further 24 percent held by other senior managers. The remaining 30 percent is owned by Fidante Partners, Challenger’s boutique funds management business.

Whitehelm targets core infrastructure in sectors such as regulated utilities, toll roads and airports in Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. It recently completed its first transaction, taking a stake in a solar plant in Peru with a total project cost of $200 million.

The firm has 51 employees in Sydney, London, Singapore and Canberra, and has a portfolio of 44 infrastructure assets. These comprise 31 equity investments and 13 debt investments.