Just three months after the board of Perth-based super fund Concept One hired former Club Plus boss Paul Cahill, with a directive to “get this merger done”, he has pulled-off a long-awaited tie-up between the $450 million fund and its larger rival, WA Super.

Concept One and WA Super issued a joint statement, late on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, to announce they had signed a deal to merge into a single fund with $3.2 billion in funds under management on behalf of about 60,000 members.

Talks between the two West Australian funds began in December 2016. In June 2017, Concept One chief executive Michael Wilson departed, prompting that fund’s board to bring in Cahill.

Cahill, who previously spent 10 years at Sydney-based Club Plus as chief executive, told Investment Magazine he jumped at the chance to work on the merger project.

“I was getting a bit bored after six months off, having retired from Club Plus in January, when the Concept One board called and asked me to come in and help them get this merger over the line,” he said. “Three months on, with the deal signed, it is great to see. The Concept One board has worked hard to do the right thing by its members.”

Following the merger, which is expected to be completed in early 2018, Concept One members are set to experience lower administration and investment fees, enhanced investment options, and access to a wider range of financial advice options.

In their joint statement, Concept One chair Ken Evans and WA Super chair Tim Shanahan (both pictured) described the deal as, “great news for West Australian workers and businesses who will continue to have access to a locally based, member-focused, low-fee super fund.”

WA Super chief executive Fabian Ross will continue to lead the combined entity, while WA Super general manager investments Chris West will also retain his role.

The three staff members now employed by Concept One will join the WA Super administration team.

As a result of the merger, WA Super’s board will increase from eight to 10 trustee directors, for a period of up to four years, and then reduce back to eight.

The deal comes two months after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority was granted stronger powers to force super funds deemed to be sub-scale, underperforming, or without a sustainable long-term business case to wind-up or find a merger partner. APRA deputy chair Helen Rowell put the industry on notice that the regulator had 21 funds on a “watchlist”.

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