30/11/2021 - 15:11

BRT Equity launches with ESG focus

30/11/2021 - 15:11

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Two Perth business people from very different backgrounds – fast food and corporate communications – have teamed up to establish a joint family office and private equity venture.

BRT Equity launches with ESG focus
Co-principals Mark Conacher (L) and Warrick Hazeldine with Alexandra Rough.

Two Perth business people from very different backgrounds – fast food and corporate communications – have teamed up to establish a joint family office and private equity venture.

BRT Equity has been established by Warrick Hazeldine and Mark Conacher.

Mr Hazeldine was the founder of Perth’s largest corporate communications firm, Cannings Purple, while Mark Conacher is a McDonald’s franchisee with five stories in Perth and the South West.

They got to know each other through a shared interest in investing and decided they could achieve more by pooling their resources to gain better access to wholesale opportunities.

They have gone a step further than most private investors by establishing a joint family office with a formal investment mandate that taps into the growing ESG trend.

The co-founders emphasise their families will be fully involved in the new venture.

In keeping with this theme, BRT operates from premises in Burswood, where Mr Conacher’s wife and other family members already run their own businesses.

Mr Hazeldine said BRT Equity was conceived in response to the two families’ desire to support causes where they can “move the dial through focus, passion and capital”.

Their lofty goal is to give back to the community and leave the planet in a better place.

“There is no conflict between this and successful investing,” Mr Conacher added.

“The world of the future is going to abound with business opportunities that will overcome the environmental and ethical issues of the past and present.”

Asked about McDonald’s role in this, he cited the group’s big investments in solar energy and plant-based foods as examples of how it was changing to meet community expectations.

Mr Hazeldine said the principals would draw on their experience in personal investing and business advice.

“Over the years we have developed valuable networks in WA, throughout Australia and in key international markets,” he said.

“We have had success in business and as investors in our own right and have the privilege of working with some of the world’s leading family offices.”

Like most private equity funds, BRT plans to be hands-on.

“We won’t just put money in and then sit back,” Ms Rough said.

“We will be hands-on, actively providing our broad-based skills and experience where we place funds so that our investments both grow and create beneficial impact.”

The firm has recruited Alexandra Rough from St John of God Health Care as head of strategy.

She said BRT’s investments would target decarbonisation, battery metals, digital technology, health and closed-cycle agribusiness.

A pointer to BRT’s investment focus comes from the board roles taken by Mr Hazeldine, who announced last week he would step down as chair of Cannings Purple.

He is chair of recent ASX listing Global Lithium Resources, which is ranked as one of the top five IPOs of the year.

After raising $10 million in May, the company raised a further $13.6 million at 37 cents early this month after attracting the interest of Chinese battery producer CATL.

Investors in the IPO have tripled their money, with the stock currently trading around 60.5 cents after briefly peaking above 70 cents.

Mr Hazeldine also recently joined the board of aspiring 'critical metals' producer ChemX Materials, which is in the process of raising $7 million ahead of an ASX listing next month.

In addition, he is the incoming chair of unlisted company Cannaponics, which is developing a medicinal cannabis facility in Collie.

As well as investing, BRT plans to support community ventures.

Its first community venture was supporting a $15,000 fundraising to build a storage facility for volunteer organisation Homelessness We Care.

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