First it was Crowded House, then Russell Crowe, now NZ$5 billion could be headed over the Tasman as the investment arm of the Auckland Savings Bank is wound down, at the behest of its owner, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).
ASB Group Investments (ASB GI), which manages approximately $5 billion across a range of products, including the country’s single largest KiwiSaver fund, has been folded back into the bank structure with many investment duties understood to be outsourced to its Australian parent.
A spokesperson for CBA’s investment arm, Colonial First State Global Asset Management, said the manager did not comment on market speculation.
A spokesperson for ASB GI declined to confirm details of the restructure except to say that as “part of good business practice, we undertake ongoing evaluations to ensure we provide the best service for our customers”.
A number of staff are understood to have been made redundant. Ainsley McLaren, ASB GI head of investments, and the group’s head of wholesale distribution, Greg Mcallister, were unavailable for comment.
In its latest prospectus, dated April 1, ASB GI indicated a number of its funds, which are mainly index products, would be dismantled over the year.
“It is anticipated that, within nine months of the date of the Memorandum of Amendments to this Prospectus, the Trusts may be wound up and investors offered an alternative investment solution,” the prospectus says. “No formal decision has yet been made, but investors will be given three months notice prior to any wind up in accordance with the Trust Deed.”
As well as the range of ASB GI funds, the New Zealand business also markets a number of funds under the banner of its insurance subsidiary, Sovereign.
It is unclear how the Sovereign funds would be affected by the restructure. The ASB spokesperson said: “If any changes to our business occur, we will share them with our people and customers.
“In the meantime it is business as usual with our clients continuing to receive the high levels of service they have always enjoyed.”