When Gabriel Radzyminski was still in high school he rang up the company secretary of a mining company that was issuing stock to one shareholder at a discount.
“The company secretary told me they were entitled to do this,” recalls Radzyminski. “They didn’t do anything wrong but I was peeved.”
Radzyminski is making a career out of being “peeved.” His firm, Sandon Capital, invests and advises unhappy shareholders. Sydney-based Sandon tries to leverage the disquiet a significant pool of stockholders may have with company management to agitate for change that will bolster the target’s stock price.
“We don’t set out to do what we do with the expectation that we can make friends,” says the 40-year-old Radzyminski, squeezed tightly into a pewter-coloured pinstriped suit. “The things we do are the right things.”
Sandon’s successes include advising Wilson Asset Management and Cadence Capital on their campaign to prevent RHG Ltd enacting a limited-share buy-back offer and plans to delist.
The firm also worked for Wilson to get the fund of hedge funds, Signature Capital, to improve the terms of its share buy-back and increase the number of investors the offer was extended to.
“Gabriel has an incredible ability to identify undervalued companies and a real skill to extract value out of them,” says Geoff Wilson, who runs his eponymous firm.
Radzyminski has always had a rebellious streak. The Sydney native remembers discipline meted out physically at a Christian Brothers school he attended.
“The strap was the weapon of choice,” he says. “I got my fair share.”
At home he annoyed his father.
“My father would always say the most common thing he heard from me was ‘why?’” says Radzyminski.
The discipline of a Christian Brothers school may have had an influence on him. So did a semester working for a New South Wales politician while at university.
“What I found out working for the state politician was if people wrote a letter, it was taken seriously,” says Radzyminski. “The politician I worked for would then write to the minister and ask his department to respond to the inquiry, concern or criticism.”
Sandon, named after a river in northern NSW, writes frequently to companies. It attaches PDFs to emails and usually posts letters describing its beef.
Radzyminski never lets it get personal.
“If you get too emotional, you lose your focus,” Radzyminski says. “It’s a job you have to execute professionally.”
Sandon was formed in April 2008 after Radzyminski spent almost a decade managing the asset management business of Centric Wealth, a wealth advisory firm whose current chief executive is former Australian rugby union representative Phil Kearns.
Sandon has less than $1 million in assets under management and has stakes in 13 companies.