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The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) is calling on the Government to bring portfolio holdings disclosure obligations for Australian super funds into line with proposed legislation to protect the Future Fund from having to disclose commercially sensitive information.
The Senate Committee report on the proposed disclosure obligations for the Future Fund released this week recommends that the Future Fund be exempt from disclosing asset prices in recognition of the importance and benefit to government coffers of the fund being able to compete on an even footing in global institutional investment markets.
The Bill amends the FOI Act to provide a partial exemption for documents handled by the Future Fund Board and the Agency in respect of the Board’s investment activities. This will reduce the risk of disclosing highly sensitive confidential and commercial material and align the treatment of the Future Fund Board and the Agency under the FOI Act with that of other entities that deal regularly with commercial information, such as NBN Co and Export Finance Australia.
By contrast, proposed disclosure regulations for super funds do not provide this exemption and will instead require the funds to disclose exact values of directly held assets such as infrastructure and property, a move AIST has warned is not in the best financial interests of super fund members.
Valuations for large-scale infrastructure assets – which include airports, toll roads, and ports– are particularly price sensitive as there may be only one bidder.
AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck said it was prejudicial to the effective operation of the Australian super system and nonsensical that the disclosure obligations for the Future Fund and Australian super funds were inconsistent.
“Just like the Future fund, Australian super funds must be able to compete on a level playing field with global institutional investors who generally aren’t required to disclose commercially sensitive information,” Ms Scheerlinck said. “Forcing super funds to disclose such information will put them at a significant disadvantage to their competitors and compromise their ability to deliver the best investment returns for members which they do by investing in job creating initiatives in Australia and supporting the ongoing health of the Australian economy.”
Ms Scheerlinck said AIST supported disclosure, including that of unlisted assets and had proposed a framework for disclosing information that doesn’t compromise returns to members.
Media enquiries: Janet de Silva, AIST Senior Media Manager 0448 000 499
AIST is the peak body for the $1.5 trillion profit-to-member superannuation sector which includes industry, corporate and public sector funds.