Published On: Tue, Apr 14th, 2015

Project Volt Brings Activist Investing to Australia

Glenn Poswell spoke of the need to encourage activist investing in Australia, "The funds that control capital here are reticent to affect change."


Alex+Waislitz

 

Investor activism may soon become the name of the game in Australia, as those involved in Project Volt attempted to affect radical change in AMP, a wealth management company, through buying up a large number of shares in the company, as reported by Business Spectator.

Project Volt was started when BT Australia’s CEO Chris Corrigan saw potential in Australia’s wealth management industry, and thought AMP needed some cost cutting and board replacements to make it to the top. Glenn Poswell, former CEO of Ellerston Capital, got involved and wanted to grow the 1% stake to 5% to secure more influence. Poswell told Business Spectator, “We wanted to acquire a stake in the business that would give us a seat at the table. At the very least, an ear to the board.”

Poswell, now at Gannet Capital, met with Corrigan to discuss the fact that AMP’s shares dropped 30% in the time that Peter Mason was CEO. Mason was later replaced with Craig Meller. The pair noticed that Australia’s wealth management business was one of the fastest growing in the world, and didn’t want AMP to miss the boat. They discussed Project Volt with AMP’s then largest shareholder, Chicago-based Harris Group as well as Alex Waislitz, who had a stake in the company through its Melbourne based Thorney Investment Group.

The activist shareholders were able to see the announcement of Mr. Mason’s resignation. Poswell commented, “With the benefit of hindsight, what we were working to achieve was right.” He spoke of the need to encourage activist investing in Australia, “The funds that control capital here are reticent to affect change.”

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