Blue Sky Alternative Investments Ltd., which raised $6.47 million in an initial public offering, says it hopes its IPO will attract foreign investors to help grow a business that now has $180 million in assets under management.

The company, whose headquarters are near Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens, says it hired Debra Goundrey last year to work out of New York to extend its reach with investors.

“There are pros and cons of being in Queensland and Adelaide,” says Mark Sowerby, a managing director at the company.  “Up here we’re it.”

There are 26 people who work for Blue Sky. Its private equity fund has had annual returns since 2006 of 33 per cent. The private real estate fund has had annual returns of 14 per cent and a hedge fund and a water fund have had annual returns of 12 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively.

Blue Sky had hoped to raise as much as $7.5 million in its IPO but “there is fear and concern over any investment” and that may deter other investment firms thinking of an IPO, says Sowerby.

Blue Sky managing directors Sowerby, Tim Wilson and David Hobart met at the University of Queensland. Sowerby grew up in Warren, New South Wales, about an hour west of Dubbo by car.

At 11 years of age he went to a 400 acre farm boarding school, Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, Tamworth.

After university Sowerby was a commodity trader for about nine years based in Montgomery Alabama for a family company now run by the fifth generation of the founders. He then spent three years at seed sales company Seed Technology & Marketing Ltd.

Blue Sky did not hire an investment bank to underwrite its IPO. It used stockbrokers RBS Morgans to sell the stock at an IPO price of $1 a share, the same price the shares were priced on their first day of trading January 24 at 4 p.m. Australian eastern-standard-time.

Employees of Blue Sky now have about a 65 per cent stake in the company. The rest is held by investors.

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