WHAT do meatworkers, corporate advisory firm Mainsheet Corporate and emerging technology company Smarttrack Pty Ltd have in common?
The answer is private equity fund manager Hawkesbridge, run by Perth-based executive chairman Christopher Rowe.
The Meat Industry Employees Superannuation Fund this week joined the WA Local Government Superannuation Plan as an investor in Hawkesbridge’s Enterprise Trust, which has raised a total of $6 million.
Hawkesbridge is planning to accelerate its growth over the next 12 months, helped by an alliance with Mainsheet, which will be able to provide hands-on support for its investees.
Smarttrack, which has developed an Internet-based tracking system, provides the first example of this business model.
Hawkesbridge has agreed to invest $600,000 in Smarttrack while Mainsheet will provide managerial expertise.
Hawkesbridge grew out of Thames Capital, a corporate advisory firm established by Mr Rowe, whose professional back-ground included being executive chairman of Cultus Petroleum and counsel assisting the WA Inc Royal Commission.
Mr Rowe said Thames spent most of its time trying to raise funds for its clients.
“Eighty per cent of our time was spent helping clients find money, which could have been spent helping them grow their company,” Mr Rowe said.
He started Hawkesbridge early last year with backing from Ascalon Capital Partners, a subsidiary of St George Bank that invests in emerging fund managers.
Hawkesbridge plans to invest in companies seeking to commercialise new technologies and will typically provide between $0.5 million and $2 million.
Mr Rowe said providing hands-on management support was just as important as the funding.
“The association with Mainsheet gives us access to a pool of business experts,” he said.
Hawkesbridge also has the freedom to utilise technical experts from other fields as needed.
Mainsheet managing director Maurice Argento said his firm had been working with Smart-track for the past two years and raised seed funding to help it get established.
The latest round of funding from Hawkesbridge will support Smart-track’s planned growth.
This includes contracts to supply, install and, in most cases, maintain tracking and communication systems in 1,300 vehicles owned by Boral.
Managing director Simon Illingworth said Smarttrack’s turnover would grow to about $3 million to $4 million in the current financial year.
He added that the group was “definitely in acquisition mode”.
Smarttrack has already absorbed the assets of Mantacom, which had developed complementary hardware systems and also received funding from Hawkesbridge.
Mr Rowe expects this week’s $4 million investment by the meatworkers’ super fund to be followed by faster growth.
Hawkesbridge is aiming to raise $25 million by the end of 2003 and $50 million by the end of 2004.