Access Capital Advisers (Access CA) has denied media rumours of a mass exodus of its partners, and has clarified how it will redistribute the 24 per cent shareholding sold back to the firm by departed director Paddy Jilek.

 

Access CA said yesterday that Jilek was the only one of the firm’s four founding partners to no longer be working for the asset consultant, although it confirmed two other partners, both of whom held an approximate 1 per cent share in the business, had left recently.

These departees were Guillaume Valdant, the former head of private equity at the firm, and former reporting/operations chief Julian Widdup.

Two new partners have been promoted, with Tom Snow, a Rhodes scholar, rising from associate director to partner within the Access CA infrastructure group, focusing on Australian investments. Meanwhile Kui Ng becomes a partner and continues to head the consultancy’s property group.

These two have bought some of the equity which Paddy Jilek sold, since he ceased to be an employee of Access CA in January 2010, and ceased to be a director effective July 1. Equity has also been allotted to the company secretary and the chief financial officer of the consultancy.

A founding partner and the chief executive officer of Access CA, Alexander Austin, refused to comment on persistent industry talk that Jilek’s departure related to the integrity of valuations obtained from independent valuers on deals either advised upon or directly put together by Access CA.

Austin acknowledged that Access CA would be losing South Australia’s Statewide Super as a client, but said the two organisations would continue to work together on co-invested deals.

He said the performance of Access CA’s portfolios, famously heavy on unlisted assets, had begun to improve from the doldrums of the global financial crisis. The consultancy’s template unlisted portfolio has returned a net 9.97 per cent a year since 1999, against a 7.42 per cent return for an amalgam of the ASX300 and the MSCI World ex-Australia indices.

The experience of 2008-09 had lead to a few changes in the Access CA approach, Austin said, with “purely defensive” assets such as government bonds and cash once again a permanent feature of the house strategic asset allocation.

The “learning experience” had also lead to enhanced liquidity management protocols within the Access CA approach, including the use of 12-month rather than 3-month currency forward contracts, giving clients “more time to manage the effects of a rapid currency depreciation”.

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