30/07/2020 - 18:00

Plenty of life left in old guard

30/07/2020 - 18:00

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In tough times and good, WA’s top dealmakers are always looking for the next opportunity.

Plenty of life left in old guard
Adrian Fini has merged his Fini Group operations with Linc Property to form Hesperia. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

There was a touch of transition to the July 13 edition of Business News, with its focus on three significant dealmakers connected to Western Australia and an apparent changing of the guard.

Featured on our magazine cover was Michael Manford, chair of Canaccord Genuity Financial, an Australian role he claimed after selling the Patersons Securities business to the Canadians last year.

While Mr Manford modelled for our cover, the corporate finance feature more heavily quoted Melbourne-based Canaccord Genuity Australia chief executive Marcus Freeman.

Established dealmakers from Perth were evident inside the magazine, with new business partnerships for John Poynton and Adrian Fini among those featured.

Mr Poynton’s new business partner is Chris Stavrianou, with the pair having formed Poynton Stavrianou.

Meanwhile, property developer Mr Fini has merged his Fini Group operations with Ben Lisle’s Linc Property to form a new business called Hesperia.

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that each of these cases is that of a high-profile leader passing the baton to a younger up and comer; but of course it is never that simple.

Firstly, these are serial dealmakers, and that includes selling their own businesses or reforming partnerships as they see fit.

Mr Poynton quit brokerage Hartley Poynton (now Hartleys which is similarly seeing change in a merger with Euroz) in the mid-1990s, when the management consulting and investment banking businesses he had established within the firm started to wield too much influence for the brokers’ liking.

Those businesses, which he formed with the late Geoff Rasmussen, Errol Levitt and Mark Barnaba – GEM Consulting, and Poynton & Partners – were sold off and most of this group later reformed as Azure Capital.

In the main, none of the men has anything but nostalgic links to these original businesses.

The original Fini Group, founded by Mr Fini’s father, Tony, was sold to Mirvac in 2001 to become Mirvac Fini in WA.

Mr Fini was a key player at the time and he ran the merged WA business for a period before re-emerging as an independent player.

Some of Mr Fini’s biggest subsequent deals have been in the joint-venture space, or getting the right partners for challenging developments, such as the very successful Cathedral Square project, which houses the prestigious State Buildings. And Mr Manford is not without a record of making deals.

Formerly Paterson Ord Minnett (I can’t recall the deal that severed ties with the east and left Patersons on its own in the early 2000s), the business subsequently expanded east, including by way of acquisition, such as that of Tolhurst.

More recently, it retreated from a big national footprint before selling to Canaccord Genuity.

It is clear all of these gentlemen have longevity beyond their last deal, and seem able to form and reform businesses based on their expertise, experience and relationships.

Without wanting to date any of them – and the gap in their ages from oldest to youngest is around 10 years, so one has to be a little cautious – none of them has any meaningful presence on social media that I could find.

That includes the more corporate-focused LinkedIn, where only Mr Poynton has an entry, albeit short on detail.

Then again, plenty of younger players also shun that medium. Each of these individuals has his own style and profile; even as I write this, I can’t imagine any of them truly slipping off into the sunset.

Nevertheless, the articles in Business News engender a feeling that these arrangements, coincidental or not as a result of our coverage, shine a light on new faces emerging in some key sectors.

Of interest to me, but as yet unknown, is the degree to which the pandemic and resulting chaos has driven such changes.

While Patersons sold out a year ago, the other two ventures are new. Even if they are not pandemic driven, it is easy to imagine that many business owners must be considering their futures in the light of a downturn that has a great deal more uncertainty than even a traditional WA bust.

There is no doubt navigating what could be another few years of slog must make many business owners wonder if they are up for it, and if they can leverage their experience with a new partner’s energy to steer a path through a potentially treacherous period.

Again, I am not suggesting that’s the case with the recent moves of the dealmakers featured last edition, but they are leaders and many others will be taking cues from their decisions.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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