John KightleyIn only the second change of leadership at value manager Maple-Brown Abbott, managing director and chief executive John Kightley will soon retire, to be succeeded by a long-standing colleague.

After a 15-year tenure with the manager, including nine as managing director, Kightley will retire at the end of June. His decision was approved by the board of Maple-Brown Abbott last week.

Kightley will remain a major shareholder in, and non-executive director of, the business.

Maple-Brown Abbott’s current head of equities, Garth Rossler, will take over as managing director and chief investment officer to become the third leader of the firm in its 25-year history.

Kightley said there were three reasons behind his decision to step down from professional funds management.

“I’m getting to retirement age, and I would like to do more charitable work with my private foundation. And the firm is very well-resourced. A lot of people have been here for more than 10 years. I am leaving the firm in safe hands,” he said.

Rossler has been a director since 1999. The two colleagues share a 20-year working history, having worked together at South African value house Allan Gray before moving to

Australia and joining Maple-Brown Abbott. Kightley appointed Gossler into both firms.

Every managing director appointment at Maple-Brown Abbott to date has been an internal transition: Kightley succeeded Robert Maple-Brown, and now Rossler replaces Kightley.

“We prefer to do it internally, to make a very smooth transition. It doesn’t create issues regarding style, which people might question if you appoint someone from elsewhere.”

Rossler stood in as acting managing director during periods in which Kightley was absent – including a three-month term in 2004, when Kightley took long-service leave.

In other changes, portfolio manager and analyst Dougal Maple-Brown has been appointed as a director and head of Australian equities, after joining the firm in 2001.

The firm also appointed Ken Wan, who formerly worked with Citadel Investment Group in its Hong Kong office, as an Asian equities analyst. Wan begins at the manager in June.

Kightley has established a prescribed private foundation, through which he aims to support charitable projects with a Christian orientation that focus on marginalised people, such as the elderly, homeless and young people in need.

He is one of three major shareholders in the firm, alongside Robert Maple-Brown and Chris Abbott. The remaining equity in the business is parcelled out to half its staff.

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