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US-based TA Associates mulls sale of 34% Fisher Funds stake

US-based TA Associates is looking to exit its 34% stake in Fisher Funds, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Friday, November 24th 2023, 6:34AM

by Jenny Ruth

The Street Talk gossip column says the private equity firm has sent a request-for-proposal to a handful of investment banks including Goldman Sachs and Nomura, asking them to pitch their deal credentials and ideas for a potential sale of the firm's shareholding.

The other 66% of Fisher is owned by the New Plymouth-based Toi Foundation, the community trust which also owns 100% of TSB Bank.

Fisher Funds chief executive Bruce McLachlan said his company “does not comment on minority shareholder matters and particularly processes that may or may not result in any shareholding change.”

Toi chief executive Maria Ramsay said: “We don’t comment on media speculation.”

Fisher, which bought Kiwi Wealth for $310 million in November last year and has about $14 billion in funds under management, earned $134.8 million in fees in the year ended March, down from $199.4 million the previous year and reported a net profit of $25.7 million, down from $93.9 million the previous year.

The fall in profit reflected Fisher's decision in April to scrap performance fees – the 2022 financial year included $77.2 million in performance fees.

Street Talk says Goldman Sachs is well-placed to win the TA mandate because of the long-time relationship between Ed Sippel, TA's Asia boss, and Craig Murray, Goldman Sach's “top gun for the Asia Pacific financial institutions advisory group.”

Goldman Sachs handled the Kiwi Wealth sale and Street Talk says the interest shown in that auction suggests “there's plenty of interest in such assets” since broking firm Jarden and Australia-based Pacific Equity Partners, a frequent investor in NZ assets, were also among the bidders.

Toi bought 49% of its stake in Fisher Funds in 2013 and in 2017 exercised an option to buy the other 51% and onsold the 34% stake to TA.

Street Talk says Toi “has no intention of checking out – meaning prospective bidders would have to consider life as a minority investor alongside an altruistic majority shareholder.”

It says Fisher also acquired the Aon NZ superannuation business in late 2021.

Fisher paid $32 million for Aon's KiwiSaver business and the Aon Master Trust but sold the trust in June 2022 for $3.4 million.

Tags: Fisher Funds

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