Aware Super has opened its first international office in London this week, through which it will direct a $10 billion investment commitment in the UK and Europe.
The fund’s deputy chief investment officer and head of international, Damien Webb, has relocated to London to spearhead the foothold, with an initial team of 15 investment professionals. Aware confirmed that it seeks to grow the office’s team to 30 over time.
Currently, the fund has $17 billion invested in the UK and Europe. With $160 billion in assets under management (AUM), Aware’s international expansion is set to help the fund achieve its $250 billion AUM growth strategy.
Commenting on the office opening, Mr Webb said: “Due to our rapid growth trajectory, we believe the UK is a key platform from which we can further fuel our scale ambitions and diversify our portfolio through access to dynamic investment opportunities in new private markets.
“The ability to access the UK’s deep investment talent pool will also further furnish our investment team’s capabilities,” Mr Webb continued.
“Our international expansion strategy is positioning us to operate across the largest and most attractive capital markets, to find the strongest investment opportunities and deliver strong longer-term returns and competitive fees for our members back in Australia.”
Aware confirmed that the initial focus for the direct investment from its new UK headquarters will be in real estate, infrastructure and private equity, with an emphasis on the energy transition sector, affordable housing, innovation, life sciences, technology, and the digital infrastructure sector.
In April, the fund entered the UK residential property market with a 22 per cent stake in Get Living, a developer and operator of large-scale, build-to-rent neighbourhoods. It also holds an infrastructure and private equity portfolio in the UK, including investments such as Forth Ports and Miller Insurance Services.
Aware Super chief executive officer Deanne Stewart commented: “We are thrilled to announce our commitment to the UK, one of the world’s most important and vibrant capital markets, with the opening of our first international office.
“Aware Super’s growth trajectory into the UK market will position us as an active, leading global institutional investor, well positioned to deliver strong risk-adjusted returns and lower fees for our Australian members while also providing exciting opportunities for our employees and communities across the UK,” Ms Stewart added.
“The benefits arising from the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement, UK’s ease of doing business, closely aligned culture, proximity to Europe and Northern America, and warm support from the Department of Trade and Business and the City of London were also compelling factors in our decision to invest here.”
UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch said the investment from Aware will boost the UKs infrastructure, property, science and tech sectors.
“Investors like Aware Super are taking advantage of trade deals like the recent Australia Free Trade Agreement and our work breaking down trade barriers to bring new capital into the country,” Ms Badenoch concluded.