One of the country’s largest industry superannuation funds, Aware Super, has established its own local property platform.
The $155-billion super fund, formerly known as First State Super, manages savings for police officers and public servants. It is expected to hit $250 billion by 2025.
About 20 per cent of its portfolio is allocated to real assets—about half of that in real estate.
Its new platform, Aware Real Estate, will be headed by industry veteran Michelle McNally, who has more than 25 years in the sector in Australia and abroad, most recently in high-powered property roles at ISPT, JLL and Australia Post.
At ISPT, McNally worked as the general manager of investor solutions, market strategy and engagement ovewrseeing $20 billion in funds under management.
At Australia Post, she oversaw 1.8 million square metres of logistics, retail and office assets occupied by the postal authority.
“Aware Super already has a strong track record of innovation and excellence in property investment,” McNally said.
“It’s incredibly energising to have a hands-on leadership role as we prepare to launch a new chapter that builds on that impressive record.”
The decision to form the real estate arm is part suite of measures Aware Super, the third largest super fund in the country, is pursuing so it can get more efficiencies and stronger returns for its 1.1 million members.
The new platform already has a $1.5 billion property portfolio of industrial, office and residential assets across Australia.
It will enable Aware to control over investments, how they are structured and how it exits them.
It is being set up in partnership with Altis Property Partners, an independent Australian real estate investment manager which has worked with the superannuation fund for more than a decade, tracking down and developing projects.
A big focus of Aware’s property book is its build-to-rent developments—including essential worker affordable housing—in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra.
Logistics assets in Sydney’s west, such as the First Estate industrial park in Erskine Park, feature heavily too.
A refreshed strategy for the platform will be hammered out over the next few months by Ms McNally and her team.
Aware Super deputy chief investment officer Damien Webb said McNally was the ideal leader for the new platform.
“Aware Real Estate is a fantastic platform for us because it is a platform we can grow,” Webb said.
“We’re seeking to change the way we interact with the property market and other markets as well.”
Earlier this year, Aware Super captured a further 24.9 per cent stake, worth around $490 million, in Lendlease’s retirement villages, taking its total position in the $2-billion accommodation portfolio to just under half.