Chief investment officer Mark Delaney

AustralianSuper, the country’s largest superannuation fund, said the market downturn triggered from the outbreak of the coronavirus had seen the value of its unlisted assets fall by 7.5 per cent on average.

The fund, which before the sell-off oversaw around $180 billion in assets, said the revaluation had cut the value of its balanced portfolio by 2.2 per cent where some 90 percent of its membership base are invested. About 22 per cent of the balanced fund was invested in unlisted assets at the end of February, including 11 per cent in infrastructure, 7 per cent in direct property and 4 per cent in private equity.

“In the current unique circumstances, AustralianSuper has moved to revalue its unlisted assets so that members can have an up-to-date picture of their superannuation balances,” the fund said in a statement. “The values of all investment portfolios have been adjusted to reflect the economic and financial market impacts of Covid-19.”

AustralianSuper is the first of the country’s largest funds to disclose the impact that the market turmoil from the pandemic has had on their unlisted investments. It comes as members across the $3 trillion superannuation industry switch their assets into cash and after the government announced that financially strapped Australians could access up to $20,000 of their retirement savings over two years, raising further concerns about fund liquidity.

While AustralianSuper has declined to comment about the strength of the fund’s overall liquidity, UniSuper told its members earlier today that the liquidity of its fund  was stable despite members moving $2 billion collectively into cash and other defensive assets. The prudential regulator’s latest figures show that superannuation funds on average have about 15 per cent allocated to unlisted assets.

AustralianSuper said it would continue to monitor the outlook for the asset classes to ensure that valuations remained fair, without elaborating.

Sarah Jones is the deputy editor of Investment Magazine. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in London for more than 12 years covering equity markets and global asset management. Prior to moving to the UK, she worked for Australian Associated Press in Sydney covering economics and monetary policy.
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