Future Fund loses private equity team to private enterprise

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by Greg Bright

Ending a tough year for the Future Fund in retaining senior investment staff, three executives in its private equity department, including Steve Byrom, the department’s head, left the government fund last week to start their own private equity management business.

The three – Byrom and colleagues David Simons and Jasmina Osmanovic – are understood to be looking to establish a private equity firm along the lines of Hamilton Lane or ROC Partners, both of which aim to have deep client relationships and offer clients funds, discrete mandates and co-investments, which can also include advice.

Both Hamilton Lane, based in the US, and ROC, which is an Asia Pacific-focused firm that resulted from a buy-out of a Macquarie Bank private equity unit, have Australian offices and clients.

Stewart Tillyard, Future Fund’s head of unlisted property, will act as head of private equity as well until a replacement for Byrom is found.

The departures of the three private equity managers follow several key losses for the Future Fund in the past six months. Barry Brakey, who was head of property investments for about 10 years, left in June. Others to follow include Campbell McCulloch, who went to Mercer as head of fund implementation and dedicated solutions and Tanya Branwhite, who went to T-Corp as head of portfolio construction. They were preceded by former chief investment strategist, Stephen Gilmore, who left in April and was announced last week as the new CIO of NZ Super.

The departures followed a restructure in March, whereby the Future Fund appointed two deputy CIOs – new positions – reporting to CIO Raphael Arndt. They are Wendy Norris, as head of private markets, and David George, as head of public markets.

The Future Fund also appointed a chief technology officer at the time and announced that Stephen Gilmore would assist the transition and leave the Fund the following month.

In a statement to Investor Strategy News, a spokesperson for the Future Fund said on Friday: “We thank Steve, Dave and Jasmina for their important contributions and wish them all the very best. Our Head of Unlisted Property, Stewart Tillyard, will take on responsibility for the private equity team and portfolio on an acting basis as we commence a recruitment process for a new person to lead the team. In the meantime, it is business as usual for the program which remains an important part of our diversified portfolio.”

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