Australian managers lead on infrastructure

Australian asset managers may struggle in conventional markets but they punch well above their weight in the infrastructure space, according to a new analysis released by Tria Investment Partners. 

The analysis, released this week, said this was because Australian infrastructure managers had enjoyed a couple of important advantages, with superannuation funds being early allocators to infrastructure and Australian Governments avid privatisers of attractive assets such as airports and some of the earlier tollroads. 

It said the Australian accent had become impossible to ignore when a recent Towers Watson list of global infrastructure managers was analysed. 

Tria said that when the list was segmented by share of pension fund assets in the main alternative asset classes of hedge funds, real estate, private equity, and infrastructure, the top 20 pension fund infrastructure managers included eight Australian managers. 

It said Macquarie Infrastructure came top of the list, followed by Industry Funds Management, AMP Capital, Hastings, RARE, CFS Global Asset Management, Access and QIC. 

The Tria analysis noted that opportunities within Australia were limited and that, as a result, the front-running players had looked offshore. 

“Ultimately the domestic opportunity is limited, and despite rapidly rising competition, a number of local managers have made the very difficult jump to a business which can acquire and manage assets offshore, and raise capital from offshore investors,” it said.  

“Particularly notable are Macquarie, which not only survived the financial crisis, but made some well-timed acquisitions and expansion moves to dominate the sector; IFM, which could easily have rested on its laurels managing local assets for Australian industry funds, but is now raising capital in Europe; and RARE, which has largely defined the global listed infrastructure securities market.”

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