Ben Heap was in Macquarie’s infrastructure team in the 1990s, working alongside Nick Moore and Michael Carapiet at the start of its “golden run”. He’ll be hoping he can bring some of the same magic to his new role running the Australian arm of UBS Global Asset Management (UBS GAM). Heap, who has spent almost all of his three years at UBS GAM running its infrastructure investment unit in New York, is taking over from Paul Bolinowsky, who is said to be relieved to again be focusing on institutional business development. Not surprisingly, infrastructure is near the top of the list of Heap’s immediate priorities for the Australian business.

He helped raise the only infrastructure fund that UBS GAM has offered to Australian institutions to date, the US$1.5 billion closed-end UBS International Infrastructure Fund, and said there was an opportunity for the manager to raise a successor fund. Heap is no stranger to business deal. Before joining UBS, he worked at Australian Wealth Management following its spin-off from Tower Insurance, turning “a series of disparate funds into a much more cohesive asset management business”. He also had a job sourcing mergers and acquisitions for TAB Limited. Today, Heap is well aware that UBS GAM’s Australian equity team has just clocked up three years since it was reinvented, after former chief Paul Fiani left to form his boutique, taking most of his top analysts with him.

The Swiss manager hastily replaced Fiani with Simon Shields, who had been running Colonial First State’s GDP Plus fund, and he has delivered top-quartile performance for the 36-month period to June 30. The flagship Australian Share Fund has lost 2.6 per cent gross in that time versus an 8 per cent loss for the S&P/ASX 300, placing Shields’ team sixth on the relevant Mercer performance survey. However the good performance has not yet come close to replacing the funds under management which walked out the door following the staff disruptions.

The Australian Share Fund itself today contains around $1.5 billion, plus there is an additional $1 billion in discrete mandates, small caps and listed property funds. Bolinowsky himself admitted last month that those figures were “sub-scale”, and Heap echoed this in a comment that UBS in Australia had probably not attained the “household word” status it enjoyed in Europe. He also mentioned real estate, hedge fund-of-funds, UBS’ own hedge funds (through its whollyowned O’Connor subsidiary) and exchange-traded funds as avenues through which he would pursue growth in Australia, in each of the retail, wholesale and institutional markets.

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