In New Zealand, we focus on the following opportunities to add value through active investment: listed equities; direct investment; expansion capital; rural land and small-medium sized infrastructure.
Around 5% of the Fund's Reference Portfolio (and more than $1 billion of the actual Fund), is invested in the New Zealand sharemarket. This money is managed by external investment managers: Devon Funds Management and Mint Asset Management, along with an internal mandate run by the Guardians’ team of in-house investment professionals.
We believe the New Zealand listed equity market, while small in global terms, has some characteristics that make it conducive to generating returns from active management.
We also have a high degree of confidence that the Fund is well positioned to achieve premium returns compared to other market participants with shorter timeframes, greater cash flow requirements and less tolerance for volatility.
We publish our top ten holdings in New Zealand listed equities monthly and a complete list of our equity holdings annually, as at 30 June. Details of each of our NZ active equity mandates are published in our Annual Report.
Our in-house NZ Direct Investment team manages the Fund's large investments in Kaingaroa Timberlands, Datacom, Metlifecare and Kiwibank. The team also manages the Fund's first direct property development, in December 2015 we purchased 1.95 ha of land at Hobsonville Point in Auckland.
We are interested in further large private market transactions where our endowments give us a unique opportunity to add value.
Under our legislation, the Fund is unable to take a controlling interest in an operating company. This means we look to work with domestic and international investment partners with a proven track record and a strong alignment with the Fund - compatible values, similar investment horizons and a similar approach to structuring and managing investments.
We look for investment opportunities with a defensible competitive advantage, able and trustworthy management, and where we have the ability to take an active governance approach. In terms of investment size, we target transactions between NZ$100m-NZ$300m+ for a 20%-50% stake.
The Fund's Investment Hub was initiated in 2016 to create new direct investment opportunities of scale in the New Zealand market that would otherwise be unachievable (i.e. we think there is a market failure that NZ Super Fund can resolve).
The project aims to leverage our unique institutional knowledge and networks, return profile, certainty around liquidity and long-term investment horizon to:
- Take better advantage of value gaps in illiquid and unlisted markets to reap returns not otherwise accessible;
- Aggregate and rationalise to provide economies of scope and scale;
- Lower the cost of providing bulk commodities, pushing more products up the value chain or owning more of the value chain;
- Rectify capability and technology gaps caused by New Zealand's size and location constraints;
- Create long-term value through sustainability and building brand stories; and
- Establish lasting partnerships with like-minded peers, including ACC, other Sovereign Wealth Funds, and iwi.
There is a significant pool of smaller high-growth companies in New Zealand that we believe are constrained by a shortage of long-term equity and a lack of access to skilled investment management. Additionally, as stakes in private companies can be illiquid (difficult to sell quickly), they are not suitable for all investors, but are expected to deliver a premium return over time. These dynamics create opportunities for long-term investors like the Fund.
What sort of investments are a good fit?
- Enterprise value of NZ$15-50 million
- Credible growth plan - typically >20% compound annual revenue growth
- Require capital to expand through strategic acquisition, technology upgrades, or market expansion
- Defensible intellectual property, ongoing profitability growth and positive cash flow
- Opportunity to add operational value
- Sound governance
- Genuine investment, liquidity opportunities over a three-to-seven-year timeframe through Initial Public Offering, trade sale or recapitalisation.
The Fund has a portfolio of New Zealand farms under management by FarmRight. Rural land is a relatively under-developed asset class delivering a range of investment exposures. The sector is difficult to access passively and we see strong scope for adding value through active management of investments in both New Zealand and other major food-producing regions. We target investment opportunities in rural land of suitable scale or capable of being aggregated to achieve scale; where the vendors are capital constrained and in areas with climatic conditions suitable for high yields.
We believe there is an opportunity to earn sustainable returns from infrastructure and have committed $100 million to the Public Infrastructure Partnerships Fund, which is managed by external investment manager Morrison & Co. This Fund targets, in New Zealand and Australia:
- Partnerships with local, regional and central government or other appropriate entities (e.g. collectively owned iwi assets)
- Typically 30+ year concession agreements for design, build and maintenance.