IFM Investor’s new chairman, Greg Combet, says it is prepared to invest in more greenfield projects in Australia as funds under management rise and brownfield opportunities dry up.
The former federal Labor government minister took over as chairman of IFM Investors from industry veteran Garry Weaven as well as chairman of lobby group Industry Super Australia (ISA) from Peter Collins on Tuesday (4 December).
It is the first time both roles have been filled by one person.
Combet said he will look to deepen the sector’s collaboration with government and the private sector to fund the construction of new infrastructure.
“We will look at how we can build the country and work in partnership with the governments and business,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“The last major [privatisation] project was WestConnex. There is nothing of that nature on the horizon,” he added.
“It means that as a pool of capital we will be looking to work as much as we can with governments that are facing large infrastructure needs and the needs of regional areas and engaging the business community to try more collaborative efforts.
“That will mean getting engaged more than we have historically with greenfield risk.”
He pointed to IFM Investor’s AUD 5bn market led proposal to build the Melbourne airport rail line as an example it would look to emulate.
Combet confirmed there had been a significant net inflow of funds into industry super funds, particularly from AMP, since the Royal Commission into the financial services sector made some damning findings about the bank owned super and financial planning sector.
“It is the case that the industry funds are experiencing significant increases, we’re talking billions of dollars,” he said.
“Each of the member funds of IFM and ISA – they’re all experiencing this [and] AMP must be losing quite a few members.”
Australian industry funds are much bigger investors in infrastructure than their retail fund counterparts and for the first time this year the industry fund sector overtook the retail sector in funds undermanagement.
Apart from its home market, he said super funds, including IFM, would have to invest more globally.
“[Total] super savings are something in the order of AUD 2.6 trn and anticipated to grow to around AUD 6trn by 2030.
“The retirement savings system has to look for global opportunities to invest.”