Media Super looks to $59bn Cbus merger

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The print industry's superannuation fund, Media Super, is aiming to join construction industry fund Cbus while maintaining its own brand. It is now looking at a number of merger options for the two to come together to create a $59bn fund.

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Top performing: Media Super and Cbus may join

Any deal is still several months away, with the parties looking at a 2021 merger date, should the proposal progress.

Walter Kuhn, president of PVCA said, "We trust the members of the board to make the best decision for the fund members. Media Super is a member-led fund, its board is well placed to act in its best interests."

Gerard Noonan, chairman Media Super said, “We have been talking with a number of funds in recent months about the prospect of Media Super gaining the benefits from a merger with a larger, like-minded fund.

“Our board met recently and considered an offering made by Cbus, through an entity called United Super, to access the benefits of scale while maintaining our identity – so we would continue to operate under the Media Super brand.

“We’re only at the very early stages of discussion and it will take several months of due diligence to ensure the offering stacks up and is in the best interests of our members.”

The move follows an extensive tender process put out by Media Super, which eventually saw Cbus and Australian Super emerge as the two main contenders to take over the fund, which in addition to printers is home to journalists and entertainers.

Smaller funds such as Media Super have been under pressure from government to merge with bigger funds, as government believes this will drive better returns for members.

The 10-person board is made up of six people from the print industry: Andrew Macaulay, CEO at PVCA; Susan Heaney from Gold Coast commercial printer Heaney's Performers in Print; and Peter Clark, founder of heatset web outfit AIW, which was sold to IVE. Also on the board are three people from AMWU. An additional four members represent other parts of the fund such as journalism, the arts, and entertainment.

Media Super has around $6bn in assets and is one of the top performing funds in the industry. Last year it ranked in the top five out of 187 funds but has seen a decline in members over the past three years as the print and media sector has been battered by the evolving business environment.

Cbus has around $53bn in funds under management, dwarfed by Australian Super which has around $180bn, and is the biggest fund in the country. Cbus is jointly controlled by employers association Master Builders of Australia and unions, including the CFMMEU and ACTU. Its chairman is former Victoria state premier Steve Bracks.

Media Super has around 78,000 members, Cbus 566,000. Media Super came into existence in 2008 when Print Super merged with Just Super. Gerard Noonan, then chairman of Just Super since 1991, became chairman of the merged entity.

Industry analysts say both Cbus and Media Super are strong performers. Last year Media Super served up a 17.4 per cent return, with the main Cbus product coming in just behind at 15.1 per cent, with a 10-year average for Media Super of 8.2 per cent slightly bettered by Cbus at 8.8 per cent. This year's figures though may well be in the negative.

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