Mr Baird served as premier of New South Wales from 2014 to 2017 and in senior positions in the investment and commercial banking sector, including a stint as the head of the corporate and institutional bank at National Australia Bank from 2017 to 2020.
The appointment was approved following a shareholder agreement, and will replace inaugural chair of the fund Will Hodgman, who notified of his stepping down from the role.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr Baird brings a “wealth of experience” to the fund.
“The $540 million Australian Business Growth Fund provides patient equity funding to growing small and medium-sized businesses, ensuring they have the access to the capital they need to grow,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The Commonwealth government is a shareholder in the Fund, alongside ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, Westpac, HSBC and Macquarie.
“The government thanks Mr Hodgman for his contribution during the formative stages of the Fund’s development, and wishes him well in his future endeavours.”
The federal government formally launched the Australian Business Growth Fund in October, enabling SMEs potential access to long-term equity capital investment of between $5 million and $15 million.
The funding will be available to established SMEs with annual revenue between $2 million and $100 million that need patient capital and have been overlooked by venture capitalists and other investors.
The federal government has committed an investment of $100 million and partnering with other financial institutions. The major banks of ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac have also each committed $100 million, while HSBC and Macquarie have committed $20 million.
Further, the federal government has set a growth target of $1 billion as the fund matures.