Aware Super Expands Global Footprint with London Office Launch

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Are Australian pension powerhouse Aware Super’s global ambitions about to reshape the financial landscape as it opens its first overseas office in the heart of London?

Aware Super is set to make a significant international leap as it opens its first overseas office in the heart of London this November. 

The move comes as part of the fund’s ambitious plan to diversify its investments and capitalise on the booming private market sector, rapidly outgrowing its home turf.

Aware Super, boasting a substantial $102 billion in assets, has chosen London’s bustling St. James district, a hotspot for hedge funds and private equity firms, as its new home away from home. 

The fund is gearing up to assemble a team of 14 professionals in the British capital by the end of the year.

Damien Webb, Deputy Chief Investment Officer and Head of International at Aware Super will lead the charge as he relocates to London in October. 

The move is a pivotal step in the fund’s growth strategy, with projections estimating assets to soar to $250 billion by 2026.

A Global Investment Ambition

Aware Super’s London office will serve as a gateway to the lucrative private equity, property, and infrastructure markets in the UK, Europe, and North America. 

Webb stated, “At 250 billion dollars and beyond, I think we would start to challenge our (real asset) pipeline if we thought we could only make direct investments in Australia.” 

Real assets encompass property and infrastructure.

“To originate and govern our investments, we will need a presence overseas at that level of scale to source and manage…those investments.”

In a bold move, Aware Super plans to significantly increase its offshore real asset exposure, targeting a 40% allocation over the next three to five years. 

This strategic shift underscores the fund’s commitment to diversify its investment portfolio beyond its Australian roots.

A Rite of Passage for Australian Pension Giants

International expansion and offices in financial hubs like London and New York are fast becoming rites of passage for major players in Australia’s booming $2.4 trillion pension sector. 

This growth is driven mainly by legislation mandating 11% of worker pay packets to pension funds.

AustralianSuper, the country’s largest pension fund, has also entered the London scene, attracting senior executives from major financial institutions like J.P. Morgan and BNP Paribas. 

Additionally, UniSuper recently made a significant $1 billion investment in European telecom masts business Vantage Towers.

Looking Across the Atlantic

As Aware Super’s global ambitions take flight, Damien Webb has hinted at the possibility of a second overseas office, potentially in North America. 

Webb commented, “Aware is ‘more than likely’ to open a second office in North America in the next three to four years.”

As Aware Super embarks on its international journey, it marks a pivotal moment in the Australian pension sector’s evolution. 

With an eye on diversification and growth, the fund is set to make its mark on the global stage from its London base, with more exciting chapters yet to be written.

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