The Sugar Manufacturers of Australia Retirement Trust (SMART) will be absorbed by another fund with a Queensland rural base, AustSafe, which has also just swapped Asian equities managers.

As of June 30, SMART will cease to exist and its 5,500 members and their $100 million in assets will be transferred to AustSafe, the rural industry fund, for a July 1 start. AustSafe chief executive Craig Stevens said that the merger will give SMART members greater investment choice than is currently available at the totally outsourced sugar industry fund. Stevens said under the successor fund transfer, SMART members’ current rights will be protected; members will be taken across on existing levels of insurance cover, and investment options will be matched to ensure no member is worse off as a result of the move. Stevens expected the transition to be relatively smooth: “The synergies between the funds are fairly obvious, many seasonal workers on farms work in the [sugar] mills during the off season, there is already some overlap.” SMART’s investment mandates will also come up for review on July 1. Stevens said the mandates that sit neatly beside AustSafe’s portfolio would be maintained, but those that did not would be redeemed and reinvested with Austsafe managers as quickly as possible. T. Rowe Price was added to that stable last Tuesday, with a $33 million mandate for its Australian-domiciled Asian equities product. Stevens said T. Rowe Price was selected late last year to replace a terminated Maple-Brown Abbott Asian equities mandate, but the fund had delayed investment until the manger set up its Australian vehicle on March 14. AustSafe currently has 163,000 members and $850 million in funds under management.