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AMP closes NZ equities business, looks to place $720m

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(Pictured: Guy Eliffe)

AMP Capital has abandoned its New Zealand equities operation, making redundant the long-time head of NZ shares, Guy Eliffe, prior to handing over NZ$760 million (A$722 million) to a “third-party active equity manager”.

In a client note dated December 19 last, AMP NZ said the move was prompted by “our views on the future growth, profitability and capacity of active equity management in New Zealand”.

  • “We also took into account the need to have a stable team delivering that capability,” AMP said in the note.

    Last year AMP lost a number of senior NZ equities managers including 13-year veteran, John Phipps, and Douglas Lau. Lau’s exit in October, which was quickly followed by the firm losing a $260 million mandate with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, triggered a review of AMP’s NZ shares operation.

    “We have now completed the review and have decided the best option for our clients and our business is to outsource active New Zealand equity management to a third-party active equity manager,” AMP said in its December client note.

    An AMP spokesperson said the selection process for an external manager was already underway. Industry insiders said the AMP mandate was likely to go to a smaller boutique manager rather than any larger-scale competitors.

    A number of established firms such as Mint Asset Management, Devon Funds Management and Harbour Asset Management could be in the frame as well as relative new-comers including Salt Funds Management, Castle Point Funds Management and Forte Funds Management (founded by ex-AMP executive Phipps).

    One industry observer said AMP Capital could hand the NZ equities portfolio to its Australian arm.

    While both Eliffe and senior analyst, Jonathan Davis, were due to depart AMP by January 28, the yet-to-be-appointed new manager would not take over the portfolio until March 31 this year.

    In the interim, Sydney-based Michael Price, AMP Capital co-head of Australian fundamental equities, would manage the NZ share portfolio.

    AMP also confirmed Australian-based senior portfolio manager, Mark Ferguson, would manage the NZ$25 million New Zealand Listed Property Securities Fund on a permanent basis. Ferguson took over the NZ listed property fund last year following Lau’s departure.

     

    – David Chaplin




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