The head of QIC’s global real restate (GRE) boutique, Robert Carter will leave QIC to pursue consulting opportunities, while Steven Leigh, the head of La Salle’s Australian operations, is set to replace him
Robert Carter, a 22-year veteran of the Queensland funds manager, has decided to pursue consulting opportunities, which will include advising QIC during the transitional period.
Movements at the helm of the real-estate boutique are a continuation of recent changes in the upper echelons of Queensland’s biggest funds manager. Chief executive officer Dr Doug McTaggart recently decided to move on to consulting opportunities after 14 years with QIC.
BlackRock Australia chief Damien Frawley will take over as chief executive of QIC in July.
McTaggart says that luring Leigh from La Salle will be a homecoming of sorts, as it was Leigh who was the original deputy head of QIC’s real-estate arm under founding-GRE chief executive Laurie Brindle.
Leigh spent 18 years with QIC before leaving four years ago to jointly run listed-property group Trinity.
“Steven returns to the QIC business he helped create from 1991 to 2009. His role will see him build on our existing portfolio of quality real-estate assets and explore untapped opportunities in the Australian and international commercial-property sector,” McTaggart says.
GRE’s portfolio is heavily weighted towards retail properties, including shopping malls in Canberra, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.
McTaggart says that GRE clients include large Australian superannuation funds as well as some offshore sovereign wealth funds.
“Our overseas clients largely want exposure to Australian real estate as they see Australia as a good hedge globally and some Asian clients see it as a good hedge for their own cost base,” he says.
“They source a lot of resources and material from Australia and having exposure to Australia is a good hedge.”
Investors can access a shopping centre/retail fund and a diversified QIC property fund that has holdings in both retail and commercial assets. QIC manages a total of more than $8 billion in assets across both portfolios.
McTaggart says that QIC’s large institutional clients are looking to gain a greater exposure to real assets generally, and property was an integral part of this strategy.
“We are seeing demand re-emerge and some of the larger funds looking to partner in property acquisitions today rather than invest directly.”
Despite the challenges facing retail in Australia with the rise of online shopping, McTaggart has confidence in its retail holdings, saying that their shopping malls are positioned to be “destinations” rather than just aggregators of various retail outlets.
A key aspect of Carter staying on in an advisory role, according to McTaggart, is QIC utilising his international experience to build its portfolio of offshore retail assets.
“One of the key opportunities that Robert has been building and pursuing has been developing