Qantas Super has appointed a top-tier accounting firm to assist with the proposed sale of its 50 per cent interest in Constellation Capital, the value Australian equities boutique.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers has called for expressions of interest by October 23, under code name ‘Project Galaxy’. An information memorandum was scheduled to be sent out this week.

Constellation, established by Doug Little in October 1999 after he left Tyndall Australia, where he had been investment director for several years, is half-owned through Qantas Super’s direct investment portfolio and half by staff.

Qantas Super was a seed investor and also had a substantial mandate with Constellation, which was terminated earlier this year after a change of strategy for the fund. Constellation also lost a mandate with Zurich Australia but is understood to still have about $750 million under management.

Janet Torney, chief executive of Qantas Super, said that while PwC was running the process, Qantas Super was looking to exit the stake in a way which was optimal for all parties.

“We have been very collaborative with Doug (Little),” she said.

The proposed sale followed a strategic review of Qantas Super’s direct investment portfolio and the decision to terminate the mandate with Constellation was a separate one, which followed a shift in the fund’s approach to Aussie equities.

Qantas decided to move its core equities to a lower-cost, more tax effective, lower alpha mandate with Macquarie Funds Management and subsequently terminated two managers – Constellation and Schroder.

Little, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, is supported at Constellation by long-time investment managers Peter Vann, a well-known quant and head of research, and Richard Morris, who has also been with the firm almost since inception. There are three other analysts in the team.

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