IFM consolidates private asset classes

The Australian fund manager’s private assets and private equity teams will merge under the leadership of Phillip Bower.

Industry Funds Management, an investment manager owned by a group of Australian superannuation funds, has created a new platform called private capital under which its private assets and private equity teams will now operate, according to a statement from the firm.

The group will be headed by Phillip Bower, ex-managing director of Unitas Capital, who has 14 years of experience in private equity. 

Steve Lipchin, the former head of private equity, will now serve as an executive director and expand the firm’s capabilities in direct and co-investments in small- and medium-sized enterprises.

“The integrated group will enhance its proposition to investors by better leveraging the considerable experience and capability that resides within these teams and enable an increased focus on investor returns and direct investments,” IFM chief executive Brett Himbury said in the statement. 

The firm has been developing its private capital arm, in May hiring Ashley Barker as investment director based in Sydney. Barker joined from Bupa Australia, but has a history in private equity having worked as an investment director at Hastings Fund Management for eight years. 

The addition was part of the firm’s move to create a direct investment platform that would invest in long-term

The integrated group will enhance its proposition to investors by better leveraging the considerable experience and capability that resides within these teams and enable an increased focus on investor returns and direct investments.

Brett Himbury, chief executive, IFM

“infrastructure-like” assets.

The arm will take stakes worth between A$250 million (€193 million; $254 million) and A$500 million in infrastructure-related businesses, including waste-management, transport, healthcare and other essential business services. 

“There are a number of businesses in Australia that are unloved because the returns are good or exceptional, but the growth rate is not strong,” Bower told Private Equity International earlier.

“What IFM is doing is building a team of people with expertise in operations, deals and private equity all together and leveraging the expertise IFM already has to acquire some of those businesses.” 

Industry Funds Management is an Australia-based global investment manager with A$44 billion in assets under management, according to the firm. It has offices in Sydney, London and New York and has historically been a fund of funds business serving institutional investors. IFM is owned by 30 major not-for-profit Australian pension funds.