Arter to take the helm at Cbus Super

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Cbus Super’s new chief executive will be Justin Arter, a former Australia country head for BlackRock and a former UK head of institutional business for that manager. Perhaps more importantly for his new role, Arter is also a former chief executive of VFMC, the Victorian Government-owned manager, which has a similar culture to that of big not-for-profit super funds such as Cbus.

David Atkin, the outgoing Cbus chief executive, who announced his intention to retire from the fund earlier this year, is a professional fund CEO. He has been at the helm of the $50 billion Cbus for more than 12 years, and before that was chief executive of ESSSuper and prior to that JUST Super, which became Media Super. The $6 billion Media Super recently announced it intended to merge with Cbus, while retaining its own brand and style, scheduled to be enacted early next year.

Cbus and Media Super have more in common than you might think. They both like to invest a little of the members’ money back into their respective industries, which the members seem to like. Cbus has its own property construction company and Media Super has a growing film and television investment fund, which has also been a solid performer despite the ups and downs of the entertainment industry.

And there is another connection via Steve Bracks, the Cbus chair and former Victorian premier. Bracks was an influential advisor to the Government of Timor Leste during its prolonged and controversial negotiations with the Australian Government over royalties from the Timor oil fields. The Australian Government was revealed, late in the proceedings, to have bugged Timor officials’ conversations. Bracks has subsequently helped with charities devoted to helping the Timor Leste people and is looking to assist in new infrastructure projects, such as ports and water retention for agriculture.

For their part, Gerard Noonan, the Media Super chair, and a former editor of the Australian Financial Review, and Graeme Russell, until recently the fund’s chief executive, assisted in restoring the small house at Balibo, in Timor Leste’s hills, in which five journalists for Australian TV – known as the ‘Balibo Five’ – were murdered by invading Indonesian forces in December 1975. The Balibo Five and Timor Leste’s 20-year struggle for independence have a special place in Australian journalistic folklore.

Announcing Arter’s Cbus appointment, Bracks said he had a wealth of international executive leadership experience. “Justin Arter is an executive with a global reputation,” he said. “Given the growing sophistication of Cbus’ investments and leading position in providing products and services to improve the retirement outcomes of our members. [He] is well placed to build on our strong foundations to guide the next period of Cbus’ journey.”

Arter said in a prepared statement: “Cbus has a proud history and strong member focus as a leading industry super fund. I am incredibly excited about leading the Fund into the next stage of its journey and to continue its success in maximising the retirement futures of its 750,000 hard-working fund members.”

Bracks also paid tribute to David Atkin. He said: “David’s stewardship of Cbus has been a remarkable achievement.  Everyone at the fund wishes him the very best and congratulates him on his highly successful leadership over a sustained period of time.”

Arter is currently winding up a contract job with ANZ helping the bank with its relationships with industry funds.

– G.B.

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