The $24 billion industry fund UniSuper has hired eight people to its investment team in the last four months, with a clear focus on further resourcing the private markets team.

Among the hires are two key appointments – head of property, and head of infrastructure & private equity – to replace former head of private markets Gary Gabriel, who went to the Future Fund last October. Splitting the private markets head into two positions overseeing property and infrastructure as well as adding more analysts in this area was a signal of UniSuper’s plan to “increase [its] capabilities in those areas”, according to UniSuper chief investment officer and interim joint CEO, David St John. The new head of infrastructure and private equity, Brett Lazarides, has been working as a consultant since Perpetual Investments last year shut down the infrastructure business of which he’d been head. He has been consulting to UniSuper for a few discrete projects since February, St John said. Lazarides will start at UniSuper on July 1 with another former Perpetual colleague, Sandra Lee. Lee was senior portfolio manager of infrastructure at Perpetual, and will move to UniSuper as senior investment analyst, infrastructure and private equity. UniSuper’s new head of property, Gordon Young, was most recently director of structured property finance at National Australia Bank’s nabCapital, with over 15 years experience in commercial property at BellRock Investments, MCS Property, Centro Properties Group and Coles Myer. Ryan Bass has also joined the property team as a senior investment analyst. He was previously fund manager for the direct property fund of Centro Properties Group, and has also worked at MCS Property. Bass is a more senior replacement for UniSuper investment analyst Peter Flynn, who recently left for ratings and research house Lonsec. Another analyst to join the private markets team was Nick Chapman. The former risk reporting officer from the Canberra-based Australian Office of Financial Management has taken on the newly created position of investment analyst, private equity. The investment team now has its own lawyer after UniSuper brought one of its former external legal advisers inhouse. Luke Barrett, who advised UniSuper for several years while a senior associate of Allens Arthur Robinson, has already started in the newly created job of head of investment law and compliance. Most recently, Barrett was senior legal counsel for Vanguard Investments. St John said while UniSuper would continue to use external legal advice, the increased focus on private markets had prompted the need for a more dedicated legal services. “It will increase our responsiveness to those opportunities,” he said. A financial advisor from the Queensland Treasury Corporation, Sybil Dixon, will fill an investment analyst position in the portfolio analysis and implementation team before the end of the financial year, St John said. While Dixon’s job is another newly created position, her appointment effectively replaces Beth Bisson from operations who recently left UniSuper for HESTA. Stephanie Hart will also start before the end of June as a personal assistant to the aforementioned heads of property and infrastructure and private equity. UniSuper also hired another compliance officer in February, Steven Berry, who was part of industry super fund LUCRF’s compliance team. Berry reports to the company secretary. In total, the net gain to UniSuper’s investment team, including Hart, is four people, bringing the total to 28 staff, St John said. St John was not too bothered that his well known rule of thumb – one staff member per billion dollars of funds under management – does not appear to have been adhered to, given the fund is currently managing only $24 billion. “Had it not been for the pullback in the markets, maybe we would have been [at $28 billion],” St John said.

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