First State Super is a large and growing asset owner.
As part of investing those assets on behalf of our members, First State Super approaches this from the perspective of our belief in “Universal Ownership”, whereby we seek to understand, manage and benefit from the footprint we have in the markets and communities into which we invest. This includes an active approach to environmental, social and governance issues that can impact longer-term returns if not addressed.
As part of building a robust portfolio of assets, we will seek to invest directly in real assets such as infrastructure and property. These assets can often involve interaction with key stakeholder groups and the following points set out principles to support our engagement approach.
- Federal and State governments are the decision makers in relation to privatisations and the provision of concessions to private sector operators. First State Super is not an active participant in the privatisation debate and is not focused on promoting privatisations.
- However, once a government has decided to privatise an asset or to offer a concession to operate an asset or service, First State Super will review that opportunity with regards to the prospective benefit to members of participation in that privatisation or concession. This aligns to our view that we want to invest into the economies and communities in which our members live and work to the benefit of members via strong investment returns and, more broadly, impacts from those assets or activities.
- First State Super engages with stakeholders on an ongoing basis and, where possible and subject to confidentiality requirements and commercial sensitivities, will seek to engage with stakeholders such as governments and employer groups and unions representing affected employees regarding privatisations or concessions on a timely basis and as soon as practical.
- Importantly, First State Super (on behalf of First State Super and StatePlus) views itself as a responsible owner of assets that may come to market via a privatisation process. This view is underpinned by our place as a long-term provider of superannuation and retirement services to members and clients across NSW, Victoria and other states.
- First State Super is an organisation that seeks to treat its employees and the employees of any organisation that it owns with fairness and in line with any industrial instruments, legislation and other relevant requirements and recognises the role of unions in this process. Issues such as diversity and gender equality are important issues for our organisation.
- Through the due diligence process, we will review the requirements of the services to be delivered as part of the acquisition of the asset or granting of a concession. We will only bid if we are highly confident of successfully delivering these services that are relied upon by communities that will typically include our members.
- We feel that this approach and our long-standing relationships with public sector employers and unions may provide comfort that we are a credible participant in the acquisition of privatised assets or concessions in what are typically highly competitive processes and ones that may include organisations that may not have similar strong legacy relationships with key stakeholders.