Ocean Partners keen to ride wave of funding companies


A new local "boutique" investment bank is seeking investments in management buy-outs and company expansions, particularly in the South Island.

Ocean Partners, co-founded by former Ernst and Young partner, Tim Howe, is in the throes of raising nearly $30 million from local and Swiss-based investors for a new equity fund.

Howe said many family-owned firms existed where the children of the owners do not want to take over but the owners were considering retirement and wanted to cash up their businesses. Surveys showed that those firms' management were the ones with the ability to takeover when the owner left, but did not often have the capital.

An ANZ survey showed that 80% of businesses thought their management were the best people to continue the running the company. "We are about backing them and helping them into the business," Howe said.

Howe's partners are chartered accountant and business consultant Sarah Ott and business consultant Steve Surridge. Howe said between them they had more than 20 years advisory experience and had themselves been involved in the execution of a lot of transactions.

Ott said the investments they were targeting were between $5m to $25m. New Zealand had about 3500 firms with turnover of $10m to $150m, the ANZ survey showed.

Ott said Ocean Partners would not take a management role but a strategic advisory one. They say the $30m equity fund would enable then to borrow maybe another $70m to give Ocean Partners a war chest of $100m.