AXA Investment Managers has quietly set up a separate Australian office, based in Sydney, and started to market a range of the international manager’s alternatives capabilities on the ground. Craig Hurt, director Australia and New Zealand, relocated from AXA IM’s London office last year and has spent much of the time since then assessing the marketplace, deciding to focus on private markets.

He said last month that AXA IM had about $650 million in Australian-sourced assets in private markets strategies. While sharing offices with the affiliate AXA Rosenberg, AXA IM would operate as a separate entity from both that firm and the other affiliate, Alliance Bernstein. “We will be building on the business we already have,” he said. “In private equity we have both very substantial funds-of-funds and direct funds and in the secondaries market we have done a lot of business in early-stage and mature secondaries,” he said.

In real estate AXA IM has a European focus, where it dominates the market, but is looking to build an Australian fund structure which is tax efficient. Hurt, who joined AXA from Investec in London in 2004, said the firm would likely bring further funds and strategies to Australia in the future.

It was possible, for instance, that the European equities firm Talents, acquired from JP Morgan, could be offered in Australia at some stage. This firm identifies companies in which entrepreneurs have large stakes and tends to make investment judgements on the people involved, treating entrepreneurs as a separate asset class.

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