The name remains the same Back in 2008, everyone’s favourite Gold Coast property investor, MFS Limited, had plenty of reasons to change its name. It was floundering in debt on its way to drowning entirely. But as it turned out, it wasn’t shame which prompted the name-change to Octaviar, but court action by another MFS with an Australian business – Massachussetts Financial Services, whose global equity fund is a big seller here for its distributor, BNP Investment Partners. Unbalanced recalls Rob Harrison’s frustration: the cowboys were even using a similar logo and maroon background to the storied Boston firm. One can sense a similar frustration when talking to the guys from Connecticut-based hedge fund-of-funds K2 Advisors, even though their near-namesakes in Australia – Melbourne long/shorters K2 Asset Management – are a perfectly reputable outfit. K2 Advisors is as institutional as you can get, while K2 AM has suffered the same indifference from super funds as that felt by its fellow listed hedgie, Platinum Asset Management. K2 AM distribution chief, Andrew Hall, says Australia’s institutional marketplace conspires against managers like his, which cherish the ability to “hide in cash” when that’s judged the best thing to do, and also won’t “bend on fees”. Still, Unbalanced confesses we’ve got the two K2s confused in the past, and no doubt some overworked asset consultants have as well. We did enjoy hearing about the solution to the name clash once proposed by the Victorians – that K2 the hedge FoF simply invest in K2 the fund, thereby, y’know, sort of neutralising the whole problem. K2 Advisors, which claims to be one of only three hedge FoFs to have grown in the past year, is yet to take them up on that kind offer. We would point out that K2, the mountain, has had its name since 1856 but we understand it’s yet to call a lawyer.
What liquidity crisis? With the festive season upon us, it’s handy to know some industry types who moonlight as makers of Christmas cheer – the liquid kind, we mean. Unbalanced came across one last month, after a chance conversation with Australian Unity Investments group executive, David Bryant, led to a half-dozen bottles from his Yarra Valley winery being delivered to Conexus HQ. (Don’t worry, we’ve logged it in the soft dollar register.) In the interests of research, we immediately uncorked the 2003 Hillcrest Pinot Noir, and can honestly say that James Halliday sold it short when he only gave it 94 points out of 100. David and his wife Tanya bought the Hillcrest vineyard, in the heart of the Yarra Valley, back in 1999 and since 2005 have been doing an increasing amount of the winemaking themselves. Apparently Qantas serves up Hillcrest as part of its international first class service, so David – maybe you should give up your day job? In terms of others mixing alcohol with their alpha-seeking, many readers are probably aware of infrastructure guru Mike Fitzpatrick’s Squitchy Lane vineyard. Meanwhile Macquarie Bank chair David Clarke owns Poole’s Rock in the Hunter Valley, which was recently enough to send him all hippie in his protests against AGL’s proposed coal seam gas drilling activities nearby. The amber ale also gets a look-in. We hear that Peter Philip, chief clearing housekeeper for SuperChoice, is working towards getting a brewer’s licence in cahoots with a few mates in the Rozelle area of Sydney. And across town, word is that PIMCO’s retail bond vendor, Peter Dorrian, has been given the go-ahead for a bar in Vaucluse. See you at the opening party, Pete.