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PRI names new CEO

Former CBUS head will become the third Australian to head the global body

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has named David Atkin as its new CEO, starting in December. 

Atkin joins after an eight-month stint as Deputy Chief Executive of AMP Capital, the $190bn Australia-based asset manager. Before that, he spent more than a decade at the helm of Aussie superannuation giant, Cbus. He has also held CEO positions at Australia’s local government and media/entertainment funds, ESSSuper and Just Super (now Media Super), respectively.

Between 2009 and 2015, Atkin served as a PRI Board Director. 

The appointment comes five months after Fiona Reynolds announced she would resign as CEO of the PRI, citing a desire to spend more time with her family back in Australia. Reynolds has since confirmed she will take up the reins at Australian publishing house, Conexus. She will also become a founding member of PwC’s Australian ‘ESG advisory group’ alongside former BP Australia President, Greg Bourne. 

The PRI has been running for 15 years, and is widely considered to be the most influential responsible investment and sustainable finance organisation in the world. It has 4,300 signatories, and reported earlier this year that three of its four fastest growing regions were emerging markets: Latin America, China and Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. 

Despite a global mandate, and a heavily European focus so far (according to its website, more than 2,400 of its members are based in Europe), the UN-backed body has had exclusively Australian CEOs. 

James Gifford, who hails from Australia, was the PRI’s founding CEO and held the position for more than 10 years, before handing it on to Reynolds. The organisation’s Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Nathan Fabian – who was tipped by some to replace Reynolds – is also Australian. He remains in his current position. 

Less than 6% of the PRI’s signatories are based in Australasia. 

When asked about whether the appointment of another Australian executive as CEO appropriately reflected the PRI’s membership, spokesperson Duncan Smith told RI: “The best candidate for the PRI CEO role has been appointed, following a comprehensive search process considering a diverse slate of candidates from around the world. The country of origin of the CEO was not a deciding factor in any hiring decision.”

Atkin will take up the role on December 10. For around three weeks beforehand, he will serve as an advisor to Reynolds. Reynolds will in turn stay on at the PRI until January in an advisory position. Atkin will relocate to London in March.