CHRISTENSEN_Jim_webFollowing the exit of alternatives chief Nicole Connolly, Telstra Super has expanded the roles of two asset class heads to include private equity and infrastructure, and has hired a hedge fund specialist and a private equity deputy.

Jim Christensen, chief investment officer at Telstra Super, confirmed the fund’s head of Australian equities, John Eliopolous, who ran the Myer family office for nine years before joining the fund, would take on its private equity portfolio in Connolly’s absence.

Simultaneously, Greg Lee, who heads the fund’s property portfolio, was given responsibility for its infrastructure assets, Christensen said, adding that Lee would apply his 20 years of experience in unlisted assets to target deals in Australia.

Meantime, the fund is in the advanced stages of appointing a hedge fund portfolio manager and an analyst to assist Eliopolous manage private equity exposures, Christensen said.

“Hedge fund and private equity allocations are much larger, so it makes sense to have dedicated people.”

He said the incoming hedge fund chief would “recast” the program implemented by Connolly to focus on direct investments with managers, rather than hedge funds-of-funds.

“We’re moving away from the fund-of-fund model to get control over manager selection and more visibility, and fees are lower.”Once aboard, the alternatives specialists would complete the internal team for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a very good opportunity to shape the team. It was stable for a very long time, and with Steve Merlicek moving on and some staff following him, we had the opportunity to look at the capabilities that we wanted to bring in.”

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