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Combet appointment to ‘renew and refresh’ Future Fund

The former chairman of IFM Investors and Industry Super Australia has been appointed to the Future Fund Board of Guardians as the government looks to “maximise” the role Australia’s sovereign wealth fund plays while preserving its independence.

In announcing the appointment of Greg Combet as the new chair of the Future Fund Board of Guardians, Treasurer Jim Chalmers touted his “extensive experience in investment and superannuation” as well as his political experience, including as minister for climate change and energy efficiency.

“Greg Combet is a person of extraordinary breadth and depth and character and experience, and he is the perfect appointment to take the Future Fund into the future… Greg will bring deep, diverse experience and fresh leadership to the Future Fund,” Chalmers said.

But questioned on whether the arrival of Combet could lead to significant change in how the Future Fund operates, Chalmers demurred.  

  • “What we’ve been able to do here is renew and refresh a really important economic institution  with an appointment of this calibre,” Chalmers said. “The Future Fund is a really important institution; it has been a successful institution, and we’re excited to work with Greg and the fund on how we can maximise its role into the future in a way that maximises its independence and its commercial focus.”

    The government has also appointed Nicola Wakefield Evans and Rosemary Vilgan as part time members of the Board of Guardians for five‑year terms in a move that will also “increase the representation of women” at the Future Fund. Wakefield Evans was a partner at King & Wood Mallesons for more than 20 years. and has held non-executive director roles at  Macquarie, Lendlease and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Vilgan is a former CEO of QSuper Group and the current chair of Commonwealth Bank Officers Superannuation Corporation.

    “These are some really important appointments,” Chalmers said. “The finance minister and I have put a lot of thought, a lot of time, a lot of consultation into these appointments to get the optimal blend of skills and experience and to also ensure that we’ve got the best kind of fresh leadership that can help modernise the Future Fund for the future.

    Combet will commence in the role by the middle of the year, with Mary Reemst as acting chair from February 4. Chalmers said that there was more change to come at the Future Fund but there had been no directions issued to the new chair.

    “We will have discussions with the chair of the Future Fund and with the CEO and others about the future of the Future Fund – a really important institution doing an important job in the economy and in the budget,” Chalmers said.

    “We think the most appropriate first step when it comes to renewing and refreshing an institution like this is to get the right people in place. Having these three appointments around the same time was a really welcome opportunity to provide that fresh thinking and that fresh leadership, and that’s what we’re announcing today.”

    Lachlan Maddock

    Lachlan is editor of Investor Strategy News and has extensive experience covering institutional investment.

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