A soon to be ratified trade deal has deepened and extended existing investment ties.
Australian businesses are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by Brexit to increase their investment in the UK, according to Joanne Holland, chief executive of the Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.
Holland says that since the completion of a trade deal between the two countries, several Australian companies have committed to injecting £28.5 billion ($50 billion) into the UK economy. She says the stable regulatory environment has helped make the UK particularly attractive for business leaders, along with the UK’s progressive approach to energy transition.
Most of activity is centred on larger businesses: Financial giant Macquarie Group was recently committed £12 billion capital by 2030 to infrastructure projects across the UK, including in offshore wind in Lincolnshire and north Scotland, gigabit broadband in rural England and hydrogen hubs in Southampton and Orkney.
Meanwhile, real estate and investment group Lendlease and its partners plan to deliver £5.5 billion of investment across its major regeneration projects in London and Birmingham over the next five years. IFM Investors will invest £3 billion over five years to maintain and upgrade the M6 toll road and Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports.
And the deals are further evidence of UK plc’s welcoming stance towards Australian businesses of all kinds. “We stand very tall and very proud nowadays,” Holland said. “When I first came here 23 years ago, Australia didn’t have that sort of reputation. Obviously, there were Australians working in pubs and so on, but the reputation Australians now have is one I couldn’t have dreamed of, even though I’d been the CEO of financial institutions in Australia.
We’re on an equal playing field with the UK when it comes to trade now … so I think there’s a new relationship that really needs to be forged.
Meanwhile, John McClusky, chief of National Australia Bank’s UK arm, said recently that the UK was ripe for investment from Australian funds looking to fuel the transition to net zero.
The UK remains very appealing for investment across infrastructure, renewables and property at the moment, and there are plenty of opportunities for Aussie investors in private markets to deploy capital.
Australia’s largest super fund continues to increase its presence in London as it scours the market for investment opportunities.
The $230 billion fund AustralianSuper, whose 2.3m members account for more than 1 in 10 of the Australian workforce, plans to increase the number of staff in its London office from 38 to 90 by the end of 2023, as it hunts for deals in infrastructure and private debt.
“We have some very big members, but we have smaller ones. And we have start-ups, we cover the whole range,” said Holland.
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