No fear as Argonaut sets its course

TOP Perth corporate adviser Charles Fear is setting up his own business under the name Argonaut Capital.

Argonaut will be one of the few corporate advisory groups that does not target the mining and technology sectors.

Mr Fear plans to target small-mid cap industrial stocks, which he believes are under serviced Australia-wide, as well as the oil and gas sector, where he sees substantial growth potential.

“Western Australia is becoming the oil and gas capital of South-East Asia,” Mr Fear said.

Mr Fear’s former CIBC colleague Eddie Rigg is joining Argonaut to look after the oil and gas sector, while the third partner will be “a bit out-of-the-box”, Mr Fear said.

The business will be kept small, with only six or seven executives.

Mr Fear spent most of the 1990s at Hartley Poynton and CIBC World Markets, playing a lead role in many large capital markets transactions.

CIBC tried to lure Mr Fear to Sydney following the closure of its Perth operation late last year.

However, he describes himself as a “lifestyle person” and therefore opted to stay in Perth.

Mr Fear said several Perth broking firms approached him about working together, but their limited balance sheet and distribution capacity meant there was no value add.

Instead, he hopes to turn Argonaut’s independence to his advantage. He believes this gives the new business much more flexibility.

As for distribution, he insists that “you can rent distribution if you’ve got a good deal. You can go and sell it”.

In addition, he anticipates that Argonaut will be able to use CIBC’s balance sheet for selected transactions, based on their past relationship.

Mr Fear is critical of some other participants in the industry and the quality of deals they have brought to the market.

“Advisers don’t get to know their clients as well as they should. They don’t drill deep enough and get to know the people,” he said.

As well as the corporate advisory business, Mr Fear has ambitions of establishing a “fundamentals” fund management operation. This would be an unlisted closed-end fund taking a long-term position in small-mid cap stocks.

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