AustralianSuper has named Don Russell as chair, taking over from Heather Ridout who is stepping down after more than six years at the helm.

Russell, who was an adviser to former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, joined the $170 billion fund in May and was unanimous appointed by the board, according to a statement. Ridout will stay on with the fund as a member of the Investment Committee.

“I am committed to ensuring that the members first philosophy, which has underpinned AustralianSuper since its inception, will continue to be the bedrock of our actions and decisions,” he said. “The fund is growing at a phenomenal rate and is committed to being fit for purpose in order to deliver the best possible retirement outcome for members.”

Russell, who has a PhD from the London School of Economics, was global investment strategist at BNY Mellon Asset Management Australia and previously chaired State Super. He served as Australia’s Ambassador to the US in Washington between 1985 and 1993 and in 1996 and was principal adviser to Keating during his time as treasurer and Prime Minister.

AustralianSuper chief executive, Ian Silk, said Russell’s “extraordinary range of experience” and deep understanding of the superannuation system would serve their 2.1 million members well.

Sarah Jones worked for Bloomberg news in London for 12 years covering equity markets and global asset management. Prior to that she worked for Australian Associated Press in Sydney covering economics and monetary policy.
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