Andrew Barnes, the New Zealand funds management entrepreneur and former chairman of Australasian Wealth Investments (AWI), last week hired a chief executive for his privately held trust company Complectus, prompting speculation of more corporate action in both Australia and New Zealand.
But he told Investment News NZ that listing was still off the agenda for the fast-growing company and, contrary to market speculation, the incoming chief executive, Grant Kemble, was not hired to prepare the company for an IPO.
“Although we are a statutory supervisor and have all the accoutrements of a listed entity, we have no listing plans,” Barnes said. “It would be useful if we go to the market at some point but we’re not ready yet. The market should not read [that a listing is imminent] because we appointed Grant – that’s not why we hired him.”
He said the appointment would allow him to concentrate on his philanthropic and digital business ventures as Kemble took over the day-to-day responsibilities for Complectus.
“Increasingly, I’m spending my time looking at acquisitions and working on digital initiatives and philanthropy,” Barnes said. “I’ve felt for some time [Complectus] needed a full-time CEO who could drive the company forward.”
It is understood that he has had discussions with several small Australian-based financial services firms in the funds management administration space in recent months, after leaving the Australian market, at least temporarily, last year.
Barnes resigned as chair of AWI last November after a troubled period for the ASX-listed business, which involved the purchase of a big stake in van Eyk Research, which was subsequently placed into liquidation, and control of the NZ Perpetual trusts operation.
The Complectus group, owned by the Barnes-controlled investment vehicle Bath Street Capital, includes Perpetual Guardian, Guardian Trust, Covenant Trustee Services and the recently purchased Foundation Corporate Trust (an earlier spin-off from Perpetual Trust).
Barnes said he was also planning to scale up his online wills business, Kowhiri, scoping out international markets for growth and expanding the range of online services.
“We need to have digital witness, wills and EPAs [enduring power of attorney],” he said. “That will revolutionalise the legal industry. And we can take those processes globally.”
Barnes said he would also launch a business under the Kowhiri Ventures brand that would help fund innovation in the ‘fintech’ world, such as ‘robo-advice’. “Personally, I think robo-advice has got to come to New Zealand,” he said.
– David Chaplin, Investment News NZ (with Greg Bright)
Global markets drop, ASX200 down most in five months
Global markets drop, ASX200 down most in five months, Orica (ASX:ORI) and Afterpay (ASX:APT) smashed