Basketball and rugby are a match made in heaven for QIC

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“We’re playing in the big league now,” said Damien Frawley, chief executive of QIC and a former rugby international for the Wallabies, said recently about QIC’s US expansion. Now, he has sent his long-term colleague, Brian Delaney, to oversee the nuts and bolts of that expansion. QIC has arrived on the world stage.

The sporting analogies fit Delaney – and his family – as well as they fit his boss, Damien Frawley. The two native Queenslanders have been transforming QIC for the past several years, refining its product line-up and building its capabilities in the specialised areas of real estate, infrastructure, private capital and fixed income. And Brian has been selling those capabilities to the world.

Delaney is going to move to Los Angeles in July, with his wife Gail. They will be a couple of hours drive away from their younger daughter Bree, who is studying at the Fresno State University. Their elder daughter, Alex, has just completed her degree in the US, at Saint Francis Brooklyn College, and has headed home.

The point of all this, to continue the sports analogy, is that Brian is a director of Basketball Australia; his wife Gail is a former international Australian basketballer, and their two daughters, Alex and Bree, played for their state, NSW, when they were teenagers. Alex and Bree both got sporting scholarships to their respective American universities. The Delaneys have basketball in their blood. They are all also, unsurprisingly, tall and they are very competitive. Being competitive – either in rugby or basketball – is a good thing when it comes to investment management too.

Brian, who becomes ‘senior managing director – US’, from July, said earlier this month that the opportunities for QIC in the US, where it owns 12 shopping malls, were enormous, both in the real estate and infrastructure asset classes.

QIC is a world-class manager in both those sectors and looks to leverage off its Australian knowledge, where about 60 per cent of its funds are still invested, when investing overseas. The firm has five US offices and about 270 staff – out of its 1,000-odd people – working there. Most of the US staff are senior investment professionals and staff who are driving investment outcomes for QIC clients. QIC likes to be an active manager for its real estate investments.

Brian says that the US market for asset opportunities is not only the largest in the world, but also the most complex. While QIC remains a purely institutional manager, US-sourced funds come from a variety of directions, such as defined contribution 401k plans, various wholesale vehicles run by other managers and brokers, as well as traditional defined benefit pension funds. The largest fund in the US is the US$360 billion CalPERS, followed by the US$220 billion CalSTRS. There also some very big other state funds and Canadian funds nearby. For a business development executive, they must seem like AustralianSuper on steroids.

As part of the recent news, David Asplin, currently managing director – global business development, has been named chief operating officer of global real estate. This is also a new position. He will manage the performance of QIC’s global real estate business, reporting to Steve Leigh, the managing director of global real estate.

Damien Frawley said last week: “Brian’s appointment reflects the value that QIC places on further developing client relationships and business opportunities in the US. With the US having become our second-largest market in terms of both employees and assets, Brian’s role will be crucial in growing our networks, particularly as we build QIC’s brand and reputation in the US and raise capital for the QIC ‘US Shopping Center Fund’.

– G.B.

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