The $1.1 billion Alcoa of Australia Retirement
Plan has overhauled its Aussie shares line up, awarding new mandates to two
boutique active Australian equities managers.

Alcoa recently funded mandates with Platypus
Asset Management ($50 million) and Contango Asset Management, both of which
were awarded late last year.

The fund has also terminated a $129.5
million mandate with independent specialist Australian equities manager JM
Financial Group, which was listed as one of three Australian shares managers in
Alcoa’s 2008 annual report for the year ended 30 June 2008 but not named on a
list published in May this year.

The new mandates increase the number of
Aussie shares managers in Alcoa’s stable from three to four, with State Street
Global Advisors managing $141.5 million and Perennial managing $172.4 million,
according to the 2008 annual report.

The mandates come at a time when the active
versus passive debate has been reignited, with some funds choosing to index
large portions of their equities portfolio in a bid to contain MERs or
rationalise manager line ups.

Gary Adamson, chief operating officer at
Platypus Asset Management, said super funds were attempting to optimise the
blend between active and passive, with many waiting until the end of the
financial year before making changes to their asset allocation.

“We might see more [search] activity in the
coming six months,” he said.

Platypus was recently named by the $1.3
billion industry fund Club Plus Super as one of four Aussie equities managers selected
to manage its $400 million domestic equities portfolio after the fund culled
the number of managers in its stable.

David Little, plan secretary at the Alcoa fund, could not be reached for comment.

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