Mark Carnegie

With the backing of Mark Carnegie, research houses SuperRatings and Lonsec have joined to form a unique company straddling superannuation and investment analysis.

Financial Research Holdings (FRH) – backed by Carnegie – would be the overall holding company for both SuperRatings and Lonsec, the funds management industry learned last week.

While FRH had bought 100 per cent of Lonsec for an undisclosed sum, no money had changed hands for the SuperRatings’ stake because its two major shareholders, Jeff Bresnahan and Jason Clarke, had exchanged their holdings for FRH shares.

SuperRatings’ founder, Jeff Bresnahan, would now chair both the new company, Financial Research Holdings, and SuperRatings itself.

Jason Clarke, who joined Bresnahan in late 2002 just after SuperRatings was founded, becomes managing director of FRH, and head of operations Nathan MacPhee was named CEO of SuperRatings.

Both the Lonsec and SuperRatings brands would continue, said Bresnahan.

Clarke had identified the Lonsec opportunity last year, but Lonsec had not pursued the initial overtures, Bresnahan said, perhaps because it was known that the forthcoming sale was “in the wings”. Zurich Financial Services Australia had decided to divest Lonsec because it was not central to its business.

“Zurich’s strategy is to clearly focus on its core business lines to provide financial advisers with innovative, market leading solutions,” Zurich CEO Colin Morgan said.

“The sale of Lonsec, a non-core asset, reflects Zurich’s focus and adherence to the strategy.”

Interestingly, Lonsec had tried to move into the superannuation research field five years ago, but the attempt failed. Bresnahan said this was due to there being fundamental differences between the two research areas.

“Superannuation research is very different to the mainstream investment research process,” he said, “and working with super funds is a different process from the investment manager area.”

Carnegie said the Lonsec buyout was “the first part of a growth strategy to build Australia’s pre-eminent financial services research and execution firm”.

All parties were confident that it would be business as usual for SuperRatings and Lonsec in the new entity.

“Our immediate aim is no disruption. In the medium-term, there may be more acquisitions through FRH,” Bresnahan said.

“It will be unique because no-one else can deliver the range of research,” he said. “SuperRatings is very focussed on the super industry, and Lonsec is focussed on managed funds and broking,” he said.

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