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Newpark sold to a surprise buyer

SHARE NZ has sealed a surprise takeover of rival Newpark Group, marking the latest phase of consolidation in the adviser industry.

Wednesday, November 18th 2020, 8:56AM 8 Comments

SHARE has bought Darren Gannon's controlling stake in the insurance and mortgage advice group, TMM Online can exclusively reveal.

The acquisition, which could be announced this week, comes after Newpark sought new financing amid a lack of certainty over its life insurance revenue.

SHARE has pounced on Newpark in a bid to boost its home loan adviser numbers. Since inception, Newpark Home Loans has grown to over 200 advisers.

The combined group is likely to have over 500 advisers across investment, insurance, and mortgage advice.

A new company, Newpark 2020, was listed on the companies register, on November 12, with SHARE NZ listed as its 100% shareholder.

The Newpark brand will remain, sources said. Advisers will have the option of keeping their planned regulatory setup, or taking one of the options available to current SHARE members.

SHARE runs a corporatised offering, in which advisers own a share in the business and pool clients. It also runs a non-branded side, with advisers working under its FAP.

Sources said that despite the change in ownership, it would be "business as usual" for advisers at Newpark, and advisers would be able to keep their current regulatory and ownership structure, and keep their own FAPs.

Industry sources said the deal would suit Newpark advisers given SHARE's strong back-office and governance systems.

The takeover will see Darren and Adele Gannon, and Murray Weatherston step down from their board roles at Newpark, as SHARE NZ directors assume the board seats.

SHARE's Tony Dench will be the chief executive of the combined group, while Richard Thomas will become chairman, sources said.

Tags: Darren Gannon Newpark Share

« First quarter claims rise, nib reportSHARE confirms Newpark acquisition »

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Comments from our readers

On 18 November 2020 at 11:37 am JPHale said:
For me this is mixed news.

Congrats to Darren and Adele on making the decision that's right for them and where I expect the challenges for similar businesses will go.

I'm sad to see this on some levels as Newpark has provided excellent support to advisers and their growth. Even when those advisers have forgotten where they have come from.

The support I have personally received has helped me grow in many ways. And I am thankful for that.

Newpark’s history and disruption in our market has helped move us along to where we are today, good and bad. Challenges, drama and success.

To the future I look forward to what Share is able to provide and support in the adviser space. They have been one of the consistent providers in the market that have strived for high standards.

I guess congrats to all concerned and good luck for the future.

On 18 November 2020 at 1:35 pm Donald said:
A sincere congratulations to Darren & Adele and am sure they will continue to be a formidable team in their future endeavors.
Darren especially has made a considerable mark over they years in supporting the industry and the Newpark advisers. Like JP eluded there are not only advisers but providers too that will do well to remember the support that Darren has made in achieving their successes. I for one will be forever grateful, his let's kick-ass together attitude always refreshing.
On 18 November 2020 at 6:17 pm Arty said:
A little history of Share might be appropriate.

From a little Apex Financial Services Group acorn 28 years ago back in 1992, a big SHARE oak tree grew!

Share group started as Apex Financial Services Ltd when five Prudential advisers got together as a managing agency in Takapuna under the leadership of Richard Amery.
The group quickly became very popular when the members made a groundbreaking decision in 1998 to move to become the first adviser/shareholder owned group, with any shareholder being able to tender for the annual management contract.

For the next 12 years my tender continued to be accepted by the shareholders, and by the time I retired as manager in 2010, the group had expanded to 35 shareholders.

At this time a Board of shareholders took over management, and the name was soon after changed to SHARE.
Richard Amery
On 19 November 2020 at 2:07 pm Referee said:
#Arty, the first adviser/shareholder owned group was Antony James 10 years before. :)
On 20 November 2020 at 6:27 pm Murray Weatherston said:
First let me add to the chorus recognising that Darren and Adele Gannon built a very successful insurance aggregator at Newpark.

Second let me take TMM online for some very wrong scoop reporting. A likely transaction between Newpark and Share is correct, but not in the way the fiction suggests.

The first sentence above might well be defamatory as it could be read as suggesting that the major shareholders looked after themselves, implicitly at the expense of the minorities. That is just not true. History will show that the Gannons have not sold their interest to Share.

The deal is for Share to buy assets off Newpark - that is a company to company transaction. Share's purchase moneys will go in the first instance to Newpark. The Newpark shareholders will not see all their money until the original company is wound up. And every shareholder will get the same compensation per share when that occurs.

Also incorrect is any suggestion Newpark needed capital. One prospective model we looked at did, but the others didn't. We had plenty of internal dollars and we were starting from a debt-free position.

Third Newpark has been a very successful company - highly profitable, cash and other asset rich and paying handsome dividends to its shareholders. Debt free and with with loads in the bank, and an unencumbered building.

Over the last couple of years, we explored a number of possible paths for the new regulated world, and at the end of the day, we just couldn't see any of them were a good reward for risk of the shareholders money.

The very things that made Newpark successful in the old world - especially non interference in the way members ran their practices - were never going to work in the new FAP world. In order to contain a FAP's risk wrt civil pecuniary liabilities, the FAP is going to need to "handcuff" its financial advisers and if they work in practice, its Authorised Bodies - in the same way banks have historically controlled their salespeople.

No adviser leeway means restricted consumer choice - one of the perfectly foreseeable outcomes of the new regime IMHO. When that happens, let no official or regulator try and pass that off as an "unintended consequence" - at least not in my hearing.

We at Newpark have consistently encouraged members to get their own FAPs to maintain themselves as masters of their own destiny.

Partners Life's move to cut aggregators out was not helpful to the Newpark model. But equally the other insurers' unwillingnesses to commit to any arrangement beyond March 2021 were also not helpful in trying to forecast the future.

In the end the decision has been made for shareholders of Newpark to cut and run. Everything else was too uncertain.

I have had a personal belief that civil pecuniary liability is a big risk for all Faps. An adviser with their own FAP is in a far better place than someone with a 100 adviser FAP - unless the FAP tightly constrains everything the adviser can do - the complete antithesis of the old Newpark.

Farewell the Newpark of old and congratulate the people who made it an extremely successful company.
On 23 November 2020 at 1:36 pm The Oracle said:
Cheers for correcting the article, Murray. As you rightfully said, from its first line it sounded like Darren did the dirty on the other Newpark shareholders, and those of you who know Darren will also know that is the last thing he would have done.
Since its inception, Newpark has changed the insurance industry in New Zealand. Thank you to Darren, Adele, the Newpark board, and staff who drove this change. The industry would have been much poorer without its contribution. Advisers were never really appreciated by providers before Newpark started to collectively stand up for us. Newpark’s contribution has kept the industry honest and got the providers to think twice before considering advisers as mere commodities with which they could do with as they wished.
Under Newpark, best advice became the norm and doing the best thing for the client became not negotiable. Newpark’s motto “A Good Broker is the Best Insurance you can have” is as valid today as it has ever been. Newpark will not be forgotten…
On 25 November 2020 at 4:18 pm JPHale said:
Thanks Murray and wholeheartedly agree.

There wasn't a way to make it work that doesn't result in Newpark taking a hands-off approach without liability. It was always going to be a hard one to transition when advisers themselves often didn't understand the value they were receiving.

To clarify my initial comments, my scope of congrats was not only personally about Darren and Adele, but there's also a lot in there that they have done and sacrificed for the group. More the point, recognising their enormous contribution before any additional shareholders came to the party.

As to the decision, it is the right one for Newpark, and all it's shareholders. Suggestions other wise are misunderstanding Darren and his motives.

I've made many public comments about how this was potentially going to play out and the harsh reality for dealer groups is this reality under the new rules.

I absolutely concur with Murray that self-propelled FAPs are the way this is intended to be, and that also drives the most independent and varied advice to consumers. Which will be a casualty if advisers can't access the support they need.

One aspect Murray has been clearly vocal on from the start of this industry review with the design not including dealer groups being an intended issue that was always going to appear.
On 26 November 2020 at 8:02 am Backstage said:
Seems some are still finishing the cordial as they stumble into the sun listening to the sound of helicopter's

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