Maple-Brown Abbott has rationalised its securities servicing arrangements, which previously included two custodians – RBC Investor Services and NAB Asset Servicing – by replacing them both with a new provider.
Maple-Brown, which manages about A$10 billion, is understood to have appointed Northern Trust as its sole securities services provider. It should be pointed out, however, that Maple-Brown will continue to do its investment administration inhouse, with the new arrangement not – yet, at least – widening the outsourcing net.
Northern won the contract in a competitive tender, the results of which probably demonstrate the increasingly international nature of the funds management firm. NAB Asset Servicing had the bulk of the business, which was domestic, and RBC, which is a specialist provider for fund managers (it doesn’t do super funds), had the rest. Maple-Brown, once Australia’s premier value manager, appears to be preparing itself for the world stage.
To be fair, the firm has had an Asia Pacific capability for about 14 years. But this has not resulted in significant fund flows. Maple-Brown, whose founder Robert Maple-Brown died in 2012, has slipped back to the pack in performance and flows over the past 10-or-so years. It used to be a $20 billion firm.
There are two Maple-Browns in the company: Dougal, who is head of Australian equities; and Andrew, who is head of listed infrastructure. The shareholding has dissipated since Robert’s death. Nevertheless, Chris Abbott, the forgotten one in the equation, is arguably the most successful fund manager in Australian history, as defined by getting money for himself and doing very little work for it – the holy grail. Abbott left the firm not long after its formation but remained a shareholder and collected generous dividends for many years.
Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)