31/03/2022 - 15:31

Poynton Stavrianou expands team

31/03/2022 - 15:31

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Poynton Stavrianou has laid claim to being Perth’s largest fully-independent investment bank after appointing a new director and reporting growth in its operations.

Poynton Stavrianou expands team
Chris Stavrianou (L) with John Poynton and new recruit Liam Bertelli.

Poynton Stavrianou has laid claim to being Perth’s largest fully-independent investment bank after appointing a new director and reporting growth in its operations.

The latest addition to the firm is director Liam Bertelli, who has returned to Perth after eight years with Citi in Melbourne.

His appointment takes total staff numbers at the two-year old firm to 11, including nine advisory staff.

There are more than a dozen other corporate finance advisers in Perth that are larger, including the likes of BDO, Azure Capital and Macquarie Capital.

Co-founder Chris Stavrianou said one of his firm’s selling points was that it was completely independent of any banks and does not sell other products or services.

“We set out to build a business that was strictly independent,” he said.

“You can be independently managed, which some of our peers are, which is fine, but we are absolutely independent.”

That’s a competitive dig at Azure Capital, which is run from Perth but has been majority-owned by French banking group Natixis since 2019.

John Poynton, who jointly established Azure 18 years ago, said his new firm’s independence has proved valuable.

“We find quite often that we are asked to provide our opinion about the other intermediaries that people should use,” he said.

“It extends to lawyers and accountants but its mostly in the capital markets, debt and equity.

“Equally, if there is a takeover, you can provide advice to the board as distinct from the company, even though they might already have their advisers.

“The board may want its own advice.”

He agreed that Tim Day’s Sternship Advisers, which undertakes similar work, was the closest competitor in the market.

Mr Poynton said he was committed to the firm, despite having to devote time to his external board roles.

His other commitments have included appearing at inquiries into Crown Resorts, where he was a non-executive director.

Mr Poynton is also chair of Strike Energy, deputy chair of Sapien Cyber and a member of the Future Fund board.

“I committed to Chris that I was still wanting to have a fair crack at this,” he said.

“I’ve done it a couple of times before.

“Get really smart people a lot younger than me, build a team, use my network and their abilities and build a business, that’s what we’ve been doing here.”

Poynton Stavrianou has worked on a diverse array of matters since opening for business just under two years ago.

This has included M&A transactions, restructurings and strategic advice.

“In that short period of time, we’ve had a lot of repeat business and referrals through that customer base,” Mr Stavrianou said.

“Its begun to snowball in the last 12 months.”

The firm’s ongoing clients include Kimberley pastoralist and abattoir owner Yeeda Pastoral Company, ASX-listed oil and gas company Buru Energy and the senior lenders to the Bluewaters power station in Collie.

Its transactional work includes advising Asia Iron Australia on the $39 million sale of the Mt Gibson gold project and Lotus Resources on the $31 million acquisition of a stake in the Kayelekera uranium project in Malawi.

It is currently advising on the sale of a large Perth-based private medical practice.

Mr Stavrianou described the Bluewaters mandate, which has been running for 18 months, as a good example of how the firm operates.

The power station is owned by Japanese companies Sumitomo and Kansai Electric, which paid $1.2 billion in 2011, but it faces major issues, mainly linked to the financial and operational difficulties experienced by its coal supplier, Griffin Coal.

“There is a complicated situation that needs a well understood strategy,” he said.

“The way you prepare a good strategy is by undertaking robust analysis.

“The value we add there is unpacking the complex situation on behalf of the lenders, which include some of the world’s largest hedge funds.”

Mr Stavrianou said he wanted clients to get an equivalent service to what they would get in New York or Hong Kong.

“Just because you are in WA, you don’t need to sacrifice,” he said.

“This is a world-class jurisdiction, we should be batting at the highest level, and that is what we demand of our team.”

Mr Stavrianou said the firm was also looking to make a wider community contribution, which ranged from staff serving on not-for-profit boards to contributing to public policy discussions.

He said it was an important differentiator.

“When we recruit people, I always talk about values – independence, integrity, excellence – but I also talk about community.

“We like to make a positive contribution.

“For some it resonates.

“For each of the people working here, it resonated, but some people just blank.

“It’s an immediate test for me as to whether they will fit with us.”

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