Future Fund chief executive David Neal has resigned from Australia’s $212 billion sovereign wealth fund to head up IFM Investors.

Neal is due to leave on February 28 after almost 13 years with the Future Fund, including six years as CEO. The British-born executive is replacing Brett Himbury who announced his retirement from the $163 billion money manager last year. Chief risk officer Cameron Price has been named acting CEO of the fund while it carries out a global search to replace Neal.

“I’m so pleased we have secured the services of Neal,” said IFM chair Greg Combet in a statement. “He is a superb leader and an investment professional with a highly successful record.”

Neal first joined the sovereign wealth fund in 2007 as chief investment officer from Willis Towers Watson where he led the consulting business in Australia. Since the government first established the fund in 2006, investment returns have added more than $107 billion in assets to the original contributions from government which at the time were valued at $60.5 billion. The Future Fund’s main portfolio returned 14.3 per cent last year and has returned an average 9.9 per cent over the last decade.

“The Future Fund is highly regarded as one of the world’s most successful sovereign wealth funds and David has played a central role driving its performance and reputation,” Chair Peter Costello said in a statement. “He has been instrumental in designing and implementing an investment strategy that grown the fund to its current value.”

Educated at Oxford University, Neal’s start date at IFM is yet to be confirmed. He takes over from Himbury who joined the asset manager in 2010 and was paid $2.87 million in the 2018-2019 financial year, according to documents disclosed to the House Economics Committee last year. That’s up from $2.63 million the previous year.

“We have an ambitious agenda going forward – to maintain strong investment performance across our asset classes and products, continue to grow and evolve as an organisation, and to be leaders in responsible investment,” said IFM’s Combet. He added that Neal was  “well equipped” to steer the money manager through its next chapter.

IFM is owned by 27 not-for-profit super funds and oversees the assets of 443 institutional investors.

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