01/07/2010 - 00:00

Same names in new chairs

01/07/2010 - 00:00

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IT is not often that a move by one person can shake up a marketplace but the defection earlier this year of Michael Ashforth to Macquarie Capital from Gresham has had a big impact.

Same names in new chairs

IT is not often that a move by one person can shake up a marketplace but the defection earlier this year of Michael Ashforth to Macquarie Capital from Gresham has had a big impact.

Mr Ashforth’s arrival at Macquarie to lead the local office appears to have been the catalyst for the departure of one of the corporate advisory sector’s major players, Martin Alciaturi.

Two weeks ago Mr Alciaturi announced his decision to quit Macquarie, after four years as the key local executive in the advisory arena, to join Aquila Resources as its general manager of finance and corporate from the beginning of next month.

Viewed as the next big thing after Fortescue Metals Group, Aquila has been active in the deal-making space this past year with a $286 million strategic stake taken by China’s Baosteel regarded in the market as a significant transaction.

The move by Macquarie to bolster its team in Perth reflected a perception that the bank had underperformed in Western Australia during the boom years.

Some observers suggest it has already had an impact, with Macquarie being linked to potential deals it would not have previously been seen near, though it may take a market revival to confirm that is the case.

Mr Ashforth’s move necessitated changes at Gresham, a boutique investment bank that boasts of its independence from conflicts arising from raising capital via debt or equity.

New Perth head Justin Mannolini told WA Business News the departure of Mr Ashforth prompted a review of Gresham’s position in the market here, and resulted in a decision to maintain its independent stance.

Gresham may face competition in that space with arrival of global player Lazard in Perth.

Lazard, having consumed Australia’s Carnegie Wylie, has now decided to establish an office in Perth via one of its executives, Perth-raised Trent Lisle, after working in Hong Kong and Melbourne.

Mr Lisle, whose brothers Ben, a former investment banker with Azure Capital, and Adam run Linc Property, said Lazard was fully committed to WA.

“We’ll do it properly, it will not be half-hearted,” he said.

There is cynicism about the major banks’ commitment to Perth with many coming and going over the years depending on the market. UBS is the latest to downgrade its presence here, with heavy hitter Richard Saywell returning to Sydney after two years in WA. He is still responsible for Perth where an office remains headed by Eddie Leung.

Another change in the market is the official appointment of Geoff Rasmussen as managing director of Azure, a company he co-founded.

Playing down the change, Mr Rasmussen said Azure had been operating with co-executive chairmen in Mark Barnaba and John Poynton, but it would now revert to a more traditional structure with an executive chair and managing director. Mr Barnaba will become a non-executive director in October.

“It is still John who runs the company,” Mr Rasmussen said.

 

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