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Managers go shopping for distribution

The ownership structure of New Zealand's financial planning industry is likely to look a lot different in a year's time as firms, including fund managers, race around the market trying to buy up distribution for their products.

Thursday, October 4th 2001, 7:10AM

by Philip Macalister

Some of the biggest financial planning firms in New Zealand are currently either in play, have been approached, or are working on plans to change their ownership.

The move appears to be led by AXA which is openly walking around the market with its chequebook open.

One deal it has done is help Wellington-based insurance firm Cameron Chote buy KPMG's financial planning division.

However, it is not alone. Other managers, in New Zealand and Australia, are actively courting financial planning firms.

Rutherford Rede director Peter Christensen confirms that his company has been approached. While he won't name names, the company was an Australian manager and it wasn't AXA.

He says after the group was approached it went around the market and talked to other potential buyers.

While no deal is being done, other potential buyers were interested in doing a deal.

But the fund managers aren't the only one playing the game. Alongside them are the so-called consolidators, such as Harts, Stockford and Professional Investment Services, are also trying to buy up financial planning and accounting firms.

While Harts has pulled back from the game and some of its earlier deals have come undone, the others are still active.

The trend for managers to buy up distribution is not unprecedented. The same thing happened in Australia several years ago and now nearly all the major financial planning firms across the Tasman are owned by managers.

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