Aus & NZ: UTA close to choosing a new manager

14 February 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

Utilities Trust of Australia’s board is expected to pick a new fund manager to take over from Hastings Funds Management within the next week, Inframation understands.

Sources familiar with the matter said shortlisted candidates HRL Morrison & Co and IFM Investors had made their final pitches to the UTA board and its advisers and they are now in the final stages of assessment of each.

Bidders are hoping for a verdict by the end of the week, but it is understood it may take longer than that.

HRL Morrison has long been a contender for the mandate to manage UTA’s AUD 6bn (USD 4.7bn) of assets. The board is understood to have put Morrison & Co forward as an alternative candidate to those that were considered by Hastings owner Westpac Bank when it was in the final stages of considering bids for the Hastings business late last year, as reported.

In the end Westpac went with UK asset manager Northill Capital, but HRL Morrison is understood to have continued its interest in taking over as a new manager for Hastings’ clients.

But advisers and fund managers not connected with the two funds consider IFM as the frontrunner, due to its scale, existing relationships with many of the investors in UTA and experience with the large, core infrastructure brownfield assets that make up the UTA portfolio.

On 20 December Northill announced that it had opted to buy just the US and UK parts of Hastings after UTA moved to tender for a new manager.

If a new manager takes over from Hastings, it is understood the Australian arm of the business will be wound up by owner Westpac Bank, as reported.