(Pictured: Matt Olsen)
Matt Olsen, the head of manager research at van Eyk Research, is moving to the retail multi-manager Select Asset Management, after a short period of ‘gardening leave’. He will be replaced by a former senior fund manager at BT Funds Management.
Rob de Silva, who was head of fixed interest for Asia Pacific at BT for about 14 years until its takeover by Principal Global Investors in 2002, and then had a similar role at Principal until 2011, will join van Eyk on November 18.
Olsen was deputy CIO and research head at van Eyk, which is going through an ownership restructure, for two years. Immediately prior to that he tried his hand as a professional tennis player, on the ITF Pro Circuit, for just over a year. He had previously worked as an analyst at Colonial First State, LFG Holdings and Ausbil Dexia.
Mark Thomas, the CEO and CIO at van Eyk, said last Friday that he was disappointed to see Olsen move back into funds management but wished him well. He said he was surprised at the number of quality candidates who came forward for the job, after a short search.
“It’s a good market for employers,” he said. “I saw a number of really good people… Matt was a solid campaigner and I am sad to seem him go. But I’m also very happy we were able to sign up Rob.”
Dominic McCormick, the CIO and co-founder of Select, said he was unable to comment on Olsen’s appointment at this stage.
The largest external shareholder in van Eyk, New Zealand-listed company Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC)*, recently entered into an arrangement to sell its stake to the former Fat Prophets listed investment company, now known as Australian Wealth Investments (AWI). AWI was chaired by a former Rothschild fund manager, Andrew Brown, and recently recruited a former UBS Global Asset Management managing director, Ben Heap, as chief executive. Brown resigned as chairman just last week. A large shareholder and consultant to AWI, who has become the new chairman, is Andrew Barnes, who was a senior executive of the old Australian Wealth Management prior to its takeover by IOOF in 2009. After that takeover, Barnes moved to the UK where he bought a country estate and has lived for several years.
Fat Prophets has had a checkered history. It raised $30 million in 2000 through an IPO but made several poor investment decisions as the tech bubble burst, and lost about half of the money over the next three-four years. By 2011, it had a market cap of less than $10 million. There was always the doubt, too, about the conflict of interest between the tip-sheet newsletter and the fund run off its back. But the funds management industry is no stranger to such conflicts.
AWI, which says it controls 49 per cent of van Eyk, has been successfully spruiked around the market by several stock brokers over the past two months, including Brent Potts of Blue Ocean Equities, who has had a colorful history in Sydney’s old broking fraternity. The brokers have told shareholders the company is looking to do a roll-up of internet-delivered financial services.
*The author is a non-executive director of PGC, which still has a minority economic interest in van Eyk.