The $2 billion Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA) fund has appointed BNP Paribas Securities as its new master custodian, replacing National Custodian Services, after a review and tender process.

The fund, which has a very sophisticated long-term investment strategy for an insurance fund, including global long/short equities and international bonds, manages its cash in-house, however, BNP Paribas will take on all the other traditional roles of custodian. It is understood that BNP Paribas pitched an aggressive price to the fund, which the incumbent declined to match. It caps off a strong year for BNP Paribas, which next year faces a review of one of its largest clients – the NSW Treasury Corporation. BNP Paribas, which has lifted funds under administration by 60 per cent since it acquired the AMP-owned Cogent in 2003, now has more than $150 billion in its care. It most recent win before the ICWA was as custodian to Virgin Super. However, the ICWA deal has prompted speculation about a pricing war between custodians, after a reasonably long period of price stability. BNP Paribas is also known to have been aggressive in its staff hiring policy in the past year.

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