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Future Fund to grow investments team
Thursday, 3 December 2009 12:30pm

The Future Fund Management Agency will have a bigger investment team than it initially planned - jumping from 29 to around 40 staff by next year - as the cash-heavy fund scours the markets for more investment opportunities.

Speaking at the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) this week, David Neal, chief investment officer at the Future Fund, said the fund has a small investment team compared to other sovereign wealth funds but will be looking to increase its internal resources as it looks for more assets in property and infrastructure.

"We have 29 in the investment team and a total staff of around 60. I expect we'll get to around 40 in our investment team, which is probably more growth than I would've expected," said Neal.

Sitting on around 21 per cent in cash (down from 31 per cent back in September), Neal said the fund is keen to invest in private equity and infrastructure assets but has struggled to find well-priced investments.

"We've been trying to build our private equity portfolio but it's difficult in this environment," he said.

Next year could be different with Neal expecting to broaden the fund's portfolio to include more infrastructure and property trusts.

"There's a much stronger pipeline so we expect to see that portfolio ramping up in the next few months."

The fund is also looking at hedge fund opportunities. "I understand that the space has disappointed but there are a lot of highly skilled people who have strategies in place and the flexibility to explore dislocation. The opportunity set is huge," he said.

While pickings are slim in these alternative markets, Neal said the fund found attractive investments in credit during the year, with the fund's debt portfolio making 30 to 40 per cent returns.

But he was quick to point out that these returns are not the norm and he wouldn't expect them to be. "You should never make 30 per cent on a highly secured line of credit."

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