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Fund managers move to broker firm

UPDATED: First NZ Capital has helped with the establishment of a new funds management firm, however isn't planning to use it to manage its own funds.

Thursday, January 14th 2010, 5:36AM

by Paul McBeth

Currently FNZC has its own KiwiSaver funds, a bond fund and a New Zealand equity fund. Chief executive Scott St John the actual decision to set up Harbour Asset Management came about quite quickly once AllianceBernstein decided to close some of its operations in New Zealand.

FNZC snapped up the five-member AllianceBernstein investment team to create Harbour, which will be headed by former AllianceBernstein manager Andrew Bascand.

St John says FNZC has always been keen to see more local firms in the market, especially as there has been a long term trend for offshore owners to exit New Zealand.

He says FNZC provided the capital, resources and systems to establish Harbour, but it is now up to the new team to start generating good fund performance and looking after clients.

"Our role is pretty much over," he says.

Harbour will be a "separate and distinct business (from FNZC)," he says.

To start with Harbour will be a wholesale manager, like AllianceBernstein.

Research company FundSource is pleased to see that the team headed by Bascand will not be lost to New Zealand.

 

"Andrew is a fantastic person and has been doing good work for years," said acting business manager TJ Singh. "It's good that First NZ's moving into the fund management, as it will give investors more options."

Still, it is unclear as to how many customers will follow their managers from AllianceBernstein to the new company. Alliance, which manages about $4 billion for New Zealand investors, announced it was shutting its New Zealand office last November, and Stephen Walker, head of asset management at Goldman Sachs JB Were said much of that money has already moved.

"In terms of competition it's largely status quo," Walker said. "Initially, it will probably be weaker competition than Alliance was."

However, Walker said he was pleased to see brokers staying in the local industry.

"There's a certain number of sharebrokers and fund managers you need, and they have been dwindling, so it's good that they able to return," he said.

Harbour Asset Management will be headed by Bascand and chaired by former Brierley Investments executive Graeme Wong. Wayne Stechman, Tower Asset Management's former New Zealand equities manager, will act as an independent director, while First NZ's Bill Trotter and Richard Bodman will also sit on the board.

First NZ Capital yesterday refused to comment on the new business.

Paul is a staff writer for Good Returns based in Wellington.

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