NZ Superfund invests in US Rubicon

Media Release11 May 2018 

Auckland, 11 May 2018: The NZ Super Fund has added another expansion capital investment to its NZ$38b (US$27b) portfolio, investing US$65m in cloud-based waste and recycling technology company Rubicon Global (

Headquartered in Atlanta, Rubicon Global ('Rubicon') provides an innovative technology platform for waste and recycling. It connects customers to a network of independent waste haulers and is leading the development of smart city products in the waste and recycling space. The company's goal is to help businesses, governments and organisations confidently execute on their sustainability goals through their waste management operations.

Mark Fennell, the NZ Super Fund's Acting Chief Investment Officer, said Rubicon provided an attractive opportunity for the Fund to increase its exposure to expansion capital.

Following the Rubicon investment, around 2% of the NZ Super Fund is invested in expansion capital investments. The Fund has direct investments in fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy, dynamic glass manufacturer View Inc. and waste-to-energy company LanzaTech. In New Zealand the NZ Super Fund has supported a large number of small and medium-sized high growth companies via external managers Direct Capital, Pioneer Capital, Pencarrow, Waterman Capital and Movac. 

Mr. Fennell said: "It's pleasing to be able to leverage our timeframe, scale and diversification to support growth companies such as Rubicon that, while established from a technology point of view, are pre-IPO. As a long-term investor, the NZ Super Fund is able to invest in high growth companies with a view to realising long-term potential. These expansion capital investments are an important part of our investment mix because they can help drive long-run returns."

Continue reading

NZ Super Fund to invest in Auckland Light Railway

 NZ Super Fund statement on Auckland Light Rail Project


The NZ Super Fund confirmed today that it had submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Government offering to assess the viability of the Auckland Light Rail Project for commercial investment.

Acting Chief Executive Matt Whineray said: "The Government has signalled its intention to accelerate core infrastructure investment in a number of areas. We consider the Auckland Light Rail network to be an infrastructure project of sufficient scale and significance to be an attractive prospect for investment. We wish to explore whether a NZ Super Fund-led consortium leveraging our international relationships can fund and deliver the project, on a fully commercial basis."

The NZ Super Fund has identified as its potential partner CDPQ Infra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) responsible for developing and operating infrastructure projects. CDPQ is one of Canada's leading institutional fund managers with USD238.2 billion in net assets, and has extensive experience in infrastructure development and investment globally. CDPQ Infra is responsible for developing, building and operating Montreal's 67-km light rail network. Other members could potentially be added to the consortium.

The NZ Super Fund understands and respects the Government's need to run a procurement process and looks forward to further engagement with the NZ Transport Agency.

Continue reading

NZ Super Fund-Investment Environment Report-December 2017

In this 'Investment Environment Report' Mike Frith, Manager, Economics, explains the global investment environment and its implications for the NZ Super Fund.

Watch a short video of Mike Frith discussing the investment environment

Economic and market backdrop

Global growth is broad-based and appears robust across US, European, Japanese and emerging market economies. Forecasters expect this momentum to be sustained – the behaviour of central banks and US fiscal policy changes will have the biggest impacts through 2018. Investment markets have been characterised by a surplus of funds chasing financial asset returns. This glut in global liquidity has reduced interest rates, suppressed market volatility and pushed up the prices of financial assets. As a result, investors have observed actual returns well above our expectations across most asset classes.

How has the Fund performed?

Continue reading

Hospitals and the NZ Super Fund

This week I’ve been visiting the Critical Care Unit at the hospital again. Today, one person was dying. He had pulmonary fibrosis and was at the top of the waiting list for a lung transplant. He picked up a lung infection before he got the transplant. About 10 people were standing around his bed, waiting for him to die, including the doctor, and a dog came in to see him. I wanted to cry, and I didn't even know him- but I've talked with his daughter and his wife.

 So it’s with relief that I am moving on to a more frivolous subject- even though I would not normally deem it to be frivolous- and that is the New Zealand Super Fund and the fact that the government is now resuming contributions. In fact, NZD 500 million will be paid tomorrow.

 Here is the press release.

 The Board of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, the manager of the NZ Super Fund, has welcomed the resumption of Government contributions to the $37 billion Fund.

The Government plans to put $7.7 billion into the NZ Super Fund between now and June 2022, with the first payment to be made on Friday, 15 December.

Continue reading

How clever is Trump's Jerusalem move ?

I’ve just been listening to a debate on Al Jazeera TV (English) between an Israeli, an Arab representative and a lawmaker at the EU on a number of topics namely about President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (although the latter was scarcely covered because the other two took up most of the time).

 The first issue- that is President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel- is amazingly complicated, albeit interesting. I have my own take on if and how peace can ever be achieved between Israel and Palestine having been in Bethlehem for a conference, and traveling into East Jerusalem from there. What an experience. I learned a great deal.

 So I was interested to read this article that that originally appeared in the Financial Times and thereafter as a Brookings Brief.

 Martin Indyk explains that President Trump's speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel did too little to fulfill the annexationist appetite of Israel's right wing, while it also left Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim supporters deeply dissatisfied. This piece originally appeared in the Financial Times.

Continue reading

If only Stephen Paddock were a Muslim

The stories about the horrific shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada, the United States, just keep on coming. Each day there is something new. And among the reports there appears to be no attempt by officialdom to change any legislation, the most obvious being to change the gun laws. Imagine if the shooter had have been a Muslim, and thereby automatically a terrorist. All sorts of legislation would have been enacted, including expanding the Muslim immigration ban. Now the government is faced with the fact that the biggest mass shooting in American history was perpetrated by a home-grown white, male American. An ordinary bloke and a "nice" guy. No need to change any laws since this tragedy could happen anytime, anywhere. it had nothing to do with terrorism. Only 59 people were shot dead.

This opinion piece that appeared in the New York Times by Thomas L Friedman sums up the tragedy well.

If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim … If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS … If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another …

If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies.

No, no, no. Then we know what we’d be doing. We’d be scheduling immediate hearings in Congress about the worst domestic terrorism event since 9/11. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them. Then there would be immediate calls for a commission of inquiry to see what new laws we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Then we’d be “weighing all options” against the country of origin.

Continue reading

Dubai has many sides

I’m always intrigued to read about foreigners getting into trouble in Dubai. It must be easy to think that the emirate is so “Western”. On the surface, it is. Go beneath it, it is not.

 This article about an unmarried couple having consensual sex in the UAE is shocking by Western standards. It is true. The UAE has strict laws. But it’s not nearly as cut and dry as this story might suggest.

 In the first instance, the couple did not have sex in Dubai; it was Sharjah, an adjoining emirate, which has adopted Saudi rules. There is no way anybody would have allowed any hanky panky there.

Continue reading

The Qatar-Saudi row: what about the animals?

Perhaps an unintended consequence of the row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and its allies) is the impact on the animals. Sheep and camels owned by Qataris are grazing on Saudi land, an area known as the Empty Quarter. It is the largest contiguous stand desert in the world. Qatar officials estimate that 15,000 camels and 10,000 sheep have already crossed the border. Some animals are dying, getting stuck at the border between the two countries where there is insufficient food and drink, according to the UK’s The Telegraph.

Continue reading

The Qatar row: news hacking?

The diplomatic row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies, such as the UAE, shows no signs of abating. The latest story to come out is that the UAE is accused of hacking Qatar state media, an accusation that the UAE obviously denies.

Having been a journalist in the region for 8.5 years, I am fully aware that neither country is known for its propensity to be kind to journalists, and governments of both countries are prepared to become involved in the editorial process.

It is likely that this diplomatic argument is not only about “terrorism”. All countries involved are accused of that. It could be about money too; who has the most and will it continue? The falling oil price is not helping; meanwhile liquified petroleum gas (LPG) prices upon which Qatar is reliant are remaining steady.

Continue reading

Julia Gillard reflects on Trump's mental health and her own anxiety when PM

I’m posting this article after attending a lecture tonight by Dr Mark J Miller, lecturer in immigration, refugees, trade policy among other things, at the University of Delaware. Of course, Donald Trump and his views towards immigration came up again and again, inevitably. Yes, we know they are extreme. Is it because he believes them, is playing to a certain audience, or is he just being reactionary? He’s probably taking on a a bit of all three. Or is it because his behaviour is abnormal.

Someone who clearly thinks this might be the case is Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister. She is now chair of the mental health organisation, Beyondblue. Here is what she thinks.

Continue reading

Grenfell reflects the accountability vacuum left by crumbling local press

Continue reading

I left my son in a kingdom of men

I read this article published in The Washington Post with a great deal of interest. I’ve a Saudi friend who tells me that the issue of women driving is more to do with business and economics rather than religion. If women are banned from driving it keeps businesses like chauffeurs, limousines and taxis profitable. If women drive, these firms would get far less business.

I also know a Westerner who married a Saudi, and can’t get a visa to go to that country. The marriage took place in a non-Arab country, under British law, so it is not deemed valid, as far as the Saudis are concerned. It’s just as well there are no children involved.

Continue reading

Qatar row: Economic impact threatens food, flights and football

I’m more than a little bit curious abut how this latest row between the Arab Gulf States will pan out. Will there be a military standoff between Qatar and the other Gulf States and Egypt? Will all nations suffer because of this? Given that Qatar is punching above its weight, and its threatening the supremacy of Dubai in the region - with its developing financial system, strong and growing airline, and a world-class news network- I can’t help but think that this row with Qatar has more to do with the economic threat it poses to the UAE than with ideology.

Continue reading

Hackers leak emails from UAE ambassador to US

It has been known for some time that the UAE, along with the some of other Gulf countries, have been forming a closer bond with Israel, as a buffer to Iran. This article from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera confirms this.

 It also shows how the UAE is increasingly concerned about the strength of Qatar, especially as a financial centre. Qatar also has different political alignments from those of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which this article highlights.

Continue reading

Jacob Zuma and Dubai

The UAE, Dubai in particular, is frequently in the news and it’s not always for good things. If we read the UK’s “Daily Mail” there are often stories about people who are imprisoned because they are caught kissing in public for example. While all the stories are undoubtedly true, it shows how knowing the rules matter; when you live in a city-state like Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah, you soon learn that the rules are much stricter than they appear for a tourist passing through.

 Foreign dignitaries frequently touch down in the country. President Trump has given his name to a building and a golf course in Dubai developed by the emirate’s DAMAC but he is unlikely to stay for very long.

Continue reading

Iran's Rouhani denounces US' Middle East Ignorance

It’s with considerable interest that I watch President Trump’s tour of the Middle East, predominantly Saudi Arabia and Israel, the two strongest allies of the US in the region.

These two countries might be different when it comes to religion but they are opposed to the same thing- Iran- and it is that common ground that binds them together.

 Saudi Arabia loves Trump, as does the UAE, where I spent time again recently. While Trump has business dealings in Dubai, with Damac, a large real estate developer, he also has close ties with Saudi Arabia. The arms deal signed with the largest Muslim state in the region is worth $110 billion, which mean that war in the region will go on and on. It is in the US interests to ensure that it does.

Continue reading

Rivals H&F and TPG vye for Fairfax

Australia’s Fairfax, which controls many of the newspapers across New Zealand, may have had its proposed merger with New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) rejected but it appears to have other options. One of them is to be taken over either by New York-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman (H&F) or by a consortium led by TPG.

Merger and acquisition newswire service, Mergermarket (which was then owned by the Financial Times Group) was sold in 2013 to private equity firm, BC Parners, for GBP 382 million. (Since then another sale is being sought, according to reports).

Continue reading

Does the chaotic news cycle inform us the way it should?

I read the article below that appeared in The Washington Post and thought this was a good reflection of how people feel about the media almost everywhere. What should they believe and what should they not believe?

All over the world, people seem to have become bored with much of traditional media, saying that most of what they read is “fake news”.

However, here is usually some truth in all that is reported, whether it is embellished or not. If people choose not to believe the news, there is little that can be done. That is increasingly the case.

Continue reading

US reporter arrested for shouting questions on healthcare

Like many people in the media I was shocked to learn about Dan Heyman, a veteran health reporter who was arrested Tuesday night after asking the US President, Donald Trump, the "wrong" questions. It's horrifying to know that such repression of the media is happening in a country that other people in the less developed countries look up too, particularly where the media is still not free- like the Middle East. 

Although the environment is hard for journalists it does force you to think about how to tackle issues in a different way and to be creative. Here's what happened to Dan Heyman.

Continue reading

Two Versions of France now racing towards the finishing line

Like many people, I'm closely watching the French election. The country is divided, in much the same way the USA was divided about Trump's election to the Presidency. Will there be a similar upset in France to that of the USA? Will there be a surprise election result? Just like the “two Americas” that many U.S. analysts saw during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Macron-Le Pen match that will take place on May 7 in the French presidential election this presidential run off will have all the ingredients of a clash between the "two Frances." This analysis by Philippe L Corre from the Brookings Institute explains the potential outcomes and what they might mean.

Continue reading