Thursday, June 13, 2024

Plenary Group pulls back from funds management – exclusive

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Plenary Group, the Australian infrastructure developer and PPP specialist, has scaled back its funds management business, Infrastructure Investor understands.

The Melbourne-headquartered firm launched subsidiary Plenary Funds Management with a splash in 2021 when it poached AMP Capital global head of social care Julie-Anne Mizzi to head the division, subsequently taking across a further six staff who had worked on Mizzi’s AMP Capital Community Infrastructure Fund to build out the team.

Mizzi left her role as CEO of Plenary Funds Management in January 2023 but remained as an adviser to the business for several months afterwards. She left altogether in October 2023 to take up a role as general manager, investment and finance, at specialist renewable energy developer CleanPeak Energy.

Following Mizzi’s departure and a lack of traction in the market, Plenary has now pulled back from the funds management sector to focus on its core activities of developing and investing in public infrastructure assets, primarily through public-private partnerships.

As well as Mizzi, other members of the team that moved from AMP Capital to PFM have also left, including Jiren Zhou, who joined PFM as a partner and head of origination but left to become portfolio manager, infrastructure and real assets, at Aware Super in July 2022; Liam Brosnan, who joined PFM as an associate and left in March 2023 to become a senior commercial analyst at the Queensland Treasury; and Ser Hui Lee, who joined PFM as finance manager before leaving in July 2023 to take up the same role at Centuria Capital Group.

Of the others that moved across from AMP Capital, PFM’s website still lists Simon Hunter as executive director and head of funds management, and Kathlyn Crafford and Kareen Livingstone as directors.

A spokesman for Plenary Group confirmed that the firm has changed its approach, saying in a statement: “While Plenary’s expansion into funds management is a natural evolution for the development of our infrastructure activities, and we continue to maintain our investment management capability, this initiative is not currently a core focus nor central to our overall business strategy.”

As part of its attempt to hit the ground running in funds management, Plenary bid to take over the management of CommIF, a move that was rejected by the fund’s independent board committee.

The fund remained under AMP Capital management and is now managed by Dexus following its takeover of AMP’s Australian infrastructure equity business in 2023. Its assets include stakes in Perth Stadium, the Darwin Convention Centre PPP, the Royal North Shore Hospital PPP in Sydney, the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Victorian Desalination Plant and NZ Carparks in Auckland.

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