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Edition 8 - People

Giuseppe Corona

AMP Capital’s head of global listed infrastructure shares his life story which has earnt him a reputation among his peers as disciplined, determined and ever dapper.

Giuseppe Corona is staring at his phone when spotted in the foyer of the AMP Capital headquarters at Sydney’s Circular Quay. It’s early morning Australian eastern time, but late-night London time, where his wife and daughter live. Connectedness is a constant for a business commuter who spends much of his time away from home.

He glances up, recognises me, smiles and shakes my hand. He’s relatively softly spoken, with a noticeable Italian accent. We walk towards an automatic door and he steps aside so I can enter. When we sit, he pours me a cup of water, notwithstanding I’m asking him for the favour. Corona is, if nothing else, always courteous and attentive.

“I had an internship at JP Morgan when I was still at university,” Corona explains. “The director of the office was an old-style investment banker. He always arrived impeccably dressed. He told me never to put my hands in my pockets. He showed me that I needed to be respectful. He taught me how to speak to clients. He said whenever you turn up at a client meeting, be at the top of your game.”

But the most important lesson he learnt during that internship, Corona says, was that he had a job because of the clients. It’s a lesson that has stuck with him.

Corona was born and educated in Palermo, Italy. He won a scholarship to St John’s University. The school is the largest Catholic university in New York, but it also has a campus in Rome. He graduated in 1999 and moved straight to the big apple, into a job with investment bank Bear Stearns.

“I loved New York. From a professional standpoint, it was the very best place to work. Bear Stearns was a blue-collar investment bank and it was a meritocracy. I had a great career there. I started as an intern and ended up as a managing director seven years later. And personally, my wife and I had a great time living in New York.”

“Of course, there were some significant events during that period, particularly 9/11. That impacted both of us and was a catalyst for some frank conversations. We decided we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives in New York. My wife re-located to Milan in 2003, but it took me a few years to move back.”

“Bear Stearns provided me with great opportunity and so I used to commute between Milan and New York. It came to an end when Bear Stearns came to an end in 2008. That was quite a humbling experience.”

“I went back to Italy and looked for a job. I went from a city where I had a network to a place where no-one knew me.”

Corona eventually got a job in a Swiss investment bank, then as a sell-side analyst at BNP Paribas in Milan. For him it was like starting over. He had to build a new foundation. At BNP, he dealt with AMP Capital’s infrastructure funds. Eventually he was asked to interview for a job.

“The interview process was in January and February 2012. I got the job in March and had to relocate to London. Only problem was my wife was six months pregnant.”

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“We made it work. My wife was very supportive. She had been in banking so understood its demands. Again, I commuted, this time between Milan and London. Two years later the family moved to London. It was hard but if I look back, it was worth it.”

Work and family are constant competitors for many globe-trotting executives. Corona says you need to work at satisfying both. “I like swimming with my daughter. That’s what we do together. I was born on February 5, so my zodiac sign is a water one. I love the water and so does my daughter.”

“We travel together as a family. I don’t get sick of airplanes and there’s an island in the middle of the Mediterranean where we spend our (northern) summer.”

Corona’s career has gone from generalist to specialist. Like fund managers who have been in the industry for long enough, he has experienced the highs and the lows of investing, and of career development. It was when he was offered the job at AMP Capital that he realised he needed to specialise in an asset class such as infrastructure.

“I wanted to be in an asset class that was destined to grow and was going to attract investment. It was clear that given demographics and the ageing population, infrastructure was an asset class that was expanding.”

That’s how he ended up as AMP Capital’s head of listed global infrastructure. He agrees he’s ambitious, but not about building personal wealth.

“I like to invest money and I want to win. I really do like doing that in my job. But what motivates me is winning to deliver the best outcomes for clients.”

Investing is a lifelong learning experience for Corona.

“My very first portfolio manager at Bear Stearns taught me how to look at a stock and how to analyse a company. He wasn’t the perfect investor. He made mistakes. But he was very disciplined in determining whether a business model was any good.”

“I’ve worked with incredibly talented people and have learnt from others in both a positive and negative way. Sometimes the people who do the wrong thing teach you something,” he says.

Corona has a methodology in finding and investing in companies.

“First we look at the quality of the underlying assets. Because infrastructure is such a global business, you need to look at the quality of regulation in the jurisdiction the asset is operating in. What’s the quality of the contracts they’ve signed? For example, if you are buying an airport, you really want to know the government’s rules around the airport, exactly how that airport operates and the economics of the business.”

“Then you look at the quality of the company, which might be different from the quality of the assets. You think about management. You think about key stakeholders.”

“You think about sustainability factors, like the environment, diversity and corporate governance."

“And you look at valuation, because at the end of the day we are investors. Investing is all about capturing the dislocation between what we think the company is worth, and what the company is trading at right now.”

“At the end of the day our job is a privilege. Our clients trust us with their retirement money, and we need to allocate that money after doing very detailed due diligence. We need to make sure that level of trust between us and our clients is not broken.”

Important Notes

While every care has been taken in the preparation of these articles, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in them including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Performance goals are merely goals. There is no guarantee that the strategy will achieve that level of performance. The information in this document contains statements that are the author’s beliefs and/or opinions. Any beliefs and/or opinions shared are as at the date shown and are subject to change without notice. These articles have been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. They should not be construed as investment advice or investment recommendations. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided and must not be provided to any other person or entity without the express written consent of AMP Capital.

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