Western Pacific Asset Management (WPI) has bought a 15 per cent stake in Maxim Asset Management, the boutique founded by former Ausbil Dexia executive, Winston Sammut.

Maxim had been looking for a strategic partner for several months, even searching offshore for potential investors. Sammut said the problem with other potential partners for Maxim was that they all wanted too big a stake, for too little money. Sammut wants Maxim’s staff and management to retain a majority stake in the company, something the WPI deal accommodates. The deal came about in an unusual way, with Maxim first approaching WPI about its Property Securities Fund. WPI’s chairman, David Guy, said WPI liked the look of the fund, which it has added to its approved list. “We have trouble locating property securities managers who have an appropriate level of concern for the downside of the market,” he said. Guy was aware of the financial pressure small funds management businesses come under when they are in the start up years, so decided to inject some cash into Maxim. “We wanted to pretty much ensure the business behind the fund manager was strong enough to sustain it,” he said. Guy said WPI would probably put someone on Maxim’s board, but would take a hands-off approach in terms of how the business is run. WPI also owns a stake of just under 20 per cent in MMC Asset Management, which it bought six years ago. Guy said WPI is not one of the subsidiaries affected by the recently announced merger of Snowball and the Western Pacific Financial Group. The Maxim Property Securities Fund is available on the Symetry and MacWrap platforms.

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