Colonial First State Global Asset Management (CFS GAM) has pulled the plug on its Property & Alternatives Investments (PAI) group, letting go its head and creating discrete business units for property and infrastructure, in the process formalising its exit from private equity and other alternatives.

James O’Leary has left CFS GAM after joining to run the PAI group in October 2005, prior to which he had been at Gresham Partners as a corporate finance executive director.

In his stead, specialist property and infrastructure units have been created, reporting directly to CFS GAM chief executive, Mark Lazberger.

Explaining the restructure in a note to staff, Lazberger said: "Higher levels of volatility bring with it greater fluctuations in revenues, and the need to clearly understand the risks that we have in all parts of our global business".

Darren Steinberg will run CFS GAM Property, having previously been head of CFS property management and listed funds after joining the group in November 2006. The unit has $19 billion under management.

CFS GAM Infrastructure will be co-headed by Perry Clausen and Christine O’Reilly, both of whom joined the manager in 2007. That unit has $3 billion of assets.

The Transactions and Capital Projects team, headed by Damian Rigney, and supporting the property and infrastructure asset classes, will also now report to Lazberger. 

A CFS GAM spokesperson said the restructure sought to ensure a "focus on key asset classes".  The manager sold its listed private equity vehicle to SunSuper at the end of 2007, and wound up its hedge fund-of-funds business last year.

The spokesperson said O’Leary’s departure was unrelated to that of John Snowden,  the global property securities portfolio manager whose departure triggered Standard & Poors to place all of CFS’ LPT funds on ‘hold’ yesterday.

Snowden, who had joined CFS GAM from UBS in 2006, has been replaced by Andrew Nicholas.

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