IRESS, the listed global financial services software and admin company, is to take over OneVue, the diversified Australian platform, admin and registry company under a scheme of arrangement. The deal gives the expansive IRESS a greater presence in the super industry in Australia.
Apart from having the largest third-party registry offering, OneVue also has about $5 billion is assets administered for super fund members. IRESS last year won the $30 billion ESSS super fund, its first industry fund client in that space, and last month won the $2 billion Guild Super. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and expected to be completed in late September.
IRESS has agreed to pay $107 million for OneVue, which was established by Connie Mckeage, the chief executive, in 2008, after she organised the takeover of a troubled financial planning systems business known as Pentafin. Australian Unity, a diversified trustee and funds management company, backed her vision for OneVue and became her biggest client.
McKeage said that the vision for the company started to take shape about 2013-14, to provide a link between distribution and superannuation, with a wrapper and investment offering. She took OneVue public in 2014, with strong backing from the financial advice market.
“I never had an ambition to do an IPO,” she said. “They are challenging. But one of our shareholders could not hold a big position in a private company.” OneVue continued to diversify through a mix of organic growth and mergers and acquisitions. A key purchase was the registry business of Computershare in 2013, prior to the IPO, which gave OneVue an important position from which to deal with the custodian banks market. Having taken on board most of the master custodians, starting with BNP Paribas, OneVue currently has about $490 billion in registry assets across 1,383 funds, according to the scheme document lodged with the ASX.
Mckeage said: “I have enjoyed working with the custodians. They are some of the smartest people in the industry. They also have an incredible client base and have a lot of integrity. I thought we could build our relationships with them and get their trust. And we did.”
Andrew Walsh, the IRESS chief executive, said: “With structural shifts and changing market dynamics, our strategy is to continue to generate long-term growth opportunities, leveraging technology and automation, while helping clients achieve efficiency, compliance and growth… The combination of OneVue’s strength and position in administration of managed funds, superannuation, and investments, with IRESS’s strength in software and data will drive innovation through technology.”
He pointed out that IRESS had done extensive due diligence, including on the troubled relationship that OneVue had had with Sargon, with which it had reached an agreement to buy part of its business, but which fell over, leaving OneVue to reclaim what assets it could. McKeage said that 20 months dealing with Sargon, a company which tried to aggregate several trustee businesses in the region, was the most difficult of her career. Sargon was placed into receivership this year, owing at least $100 million, according to the administrator.
While Mckeage will continue to work with OneVue under its new ownership on an advisory basis, her first goal will be to have a proper holiday. “I can’t remember the last time I had an uninterrupted holiday,” she said. “I’m glad for our staff and clients and shareholders that the business is going to a good home.” OneVue has about 250 staff.
Personally, she already has two board seats, a pro-bono directorship for a medical sciences company – the Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery – and a directorship on the venture capital company OneVentures. “I’ve always been interested in science,” she said.
But she is still passionate about providing client service, the field she started out in at the former Bankers Trust, recruited by the famous BT retail marketer Terry Power in the 1980s. “I love being on the phone to people,” she said.
Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)