IFM strengthens Australia PE team

The Melbourne-based asset manager has hired Steven Lipchin to lead its co-investing and direct investing initiative.

Steven Lipchin has joined Industry Funds Management in Melbourne as executive director of private equity, according to a company statement. He will be in charge of the firm’s direct and co-investment operations, with his appointment effective on 12 November. 

Lipchin previously worked at investment and advisory firm the Wingate Group in Melbourne as its head of private equity. Prior to that he was managing director at South African private equity firm Horizon Equity Partners. 

The hire is part of IFM’s plans to bolster its private equity programme, according to the firm. 

“Private equity continues to enhance returns for our investors’ members,” IFM head of private equity Judith Smith said in a statement. “Around the world, pension funds are increasing their allocation to private equity. Here in Australia, over the past ten years, private equity net returns outperform most market indices.”

Australian private equity annualised returns outperformed the top 300 listed companies in Australia by 10 percent during the fiscal year from July 2011 to June 2012, a recent joint study by Cambridge Associates and the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association showed. Australian GPs distributed a total of A$2.3 billion (€1.9 billion; $2.4 billion) back to LPs, while drawing down A$1.6 billion. 

Smith continued, “We are seeing traditional lenders pulling back from the SME sector, thereby providing good investment opportunities. Australian SME’s currently lack funding and that means IFM has an opportunity to achieve strong returns, while building jobs for Australians in the process. The feedback from our clients is that they want additional direct exposure to private equity. We have responded and Steve will now lead this next phase.”

Industry Funds Management is wholly owned by 33 pension funds and invests in infrastructure, private equity, listed equity, and debt. The firm was created through the merger of IFS Private Capital Group and Development Australia Fund Management Limited, with IFM assuming full management. The firm has offices in Australia, Europe and the US investing from a global fund, according to PE Asia’s data division.