The US Teamsters’ Union pension funds, which have about $US120 billion across a range of affiliated funds, have invested US$300 million into the Industry Funds Management Global Infrastructure Fund and suggested a similar amount may be forthcoming by year end.

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees’ Global Dialogue conference in San Francisco last week, Rome Aloise, the chair of the investment committee of the Western Conference of the Teamsters Pension Trust Fund of California, said that the investment represented the first of its kind into Industry Funds Management (IFM) from any Taft-Hartley (union affiliated) fund. Aloise’s announcement took the IFM participants at the conference by surprise, as they had agreed not to speak publicly about the deal. Aloise, who opened the conference, which spans 10 days in San Francisco and Sacramento, California’s capital, said: “We’ll look to do another $300 million by the end of the year”. The new funds committed last week will push the IFM global infrastructure fund to about $US3.5 billion. The fund has invested in seven deals so far, the most recent being $US1.4 billion to buy a portfolio of power stations in the US from Consolidated Edison. Dunia Wright, the head of international business for IFM, said in a separate session at the conference that infrastructure was the current focus of IFM’s growing offices in New York and London. She said 32 of IFM’s global staff of 84 were specialist infrastructure people. “Infrastructure is the hot new asset class in the US, so there are a lot of new funds, especially from investment banks … You have to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” About 80 people from Australia, the US, UK and Canada are attending the conference, which finishes tomorrow (July 2). This is the second Global Dialogue, the first being held in Chicago and New York in 2006.

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