JANA Investment Advisors will investigate Telstra Super’s Australian equities portfolio in coming months, while the corporate fund has increased its mandate with a Melbourne boutique after it returned 55 per cent in the first half of 2009.

JANA, whose appointment in February brought an end to Russell’s 15-year tenure as asset consultant to the $10 billion Telstra Super, would soon perform an “open slate” assessment of the fund’s Australian equities portfolio, according to Dan Farmer, senior executive – investments and head of domestic equities at Telstra Super.

Stephen Carew, head of investment research and absolute return at JANA, is Telstra Super’s principal consulting contact and will work with Farmer and other investment staff during the review.

Farmer said the review did not aim to make any “tectonic shifts” in the manager line-up or reduce the dominance of active strategies in the portfolio.

“My view is to remain active. We haven’t become so large that capacity is such a huge concern, or that we’re taking huge licks of money with active managers.”

Meanwhile, Farmer said the fund had increased its mandate with Intersuisse Bioscience Managers (IB Managers) by $5 million to $15 million after the boutique recorded a “huge quarter” in which two companies in its portfolio became involved in corporate takeovers.

The IB Australian Bioscience Fund I, which invests in private or public mid-stage life science companies, returned 55 per cent per cent in the 11 months to May 29 against the -25 per cent provided by the ASX200. This outperformance was primarily driven by the acquisition of Arana Therapeutics by biopharmaceutical firm Cephalon, heart device maker Thoratec’s US$282 million tilt at HeartWare International, an Australian company, and some positive clinical results for drug delivery business Acrux.

In the June 2009 IB Managers newsletter, Farmer is quoted as saying the fund was Telstra Super’s “number one performing Aussie equities fund over the last nine months”.

Telstra Super introduced IB Managers to its Australian equities incubator portfolio the last year.

The portfolio was set up in 2007 to invest in emerging managers with mandates sized between $10 million and $20 million.

It was established to access promising, high-performing managers early, reserve some capacity and negotiate a competitive fee.

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