The government-owned venture investment outfit now known as NZ Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP) has rinsed out the board and appointed a new interim chief following a fraught HR period in 2020.
Last week NZGCP named James Fletcher, part of the famed NZ construction family and most recently head of Treescape Australasia, as chief executive while appointing four new board members to join just-hired chair, David Smol.
Along with Smol, the new NZGCP board includes two figures well-known in the financial services industry – Devon Funds founding member, Mel Firmin, and ex Securities Commission director, Annabel Cotton – as well as corporate lawyer, Guy Royal, and, angel investor, Marcel van den Assum. Van den Assum was also the first chief investment officer at dairy giant, Fonterra, for five years ending in 2005.
On a fixed term contract ending June 30 this year, Fletcher replaces the evanescent, Daria Murray, who was hired as CEO last September but dropped out before serving in the role. UK ex-pat, Murray, has held investment positions at the NZ Superannuation Fund (briefly), ANZ Investments, Fonterra and most recently, Kiwibank.
Murray was to step in for previous NZGCP chief, Richard Dellabarca, who left under a cloud last August.
While still listed as directors on the Companies Office, outgoing NZGCP directors include acting chair, Debbie Birch, Murray Gribben and Emma Loisel.
Formerly known as the NZ Venture Investment Fund, NZGCP operates two vehicles: the seed-stage Aspire Fund; and, the multi-manager Elevate NZ Venture Fund.
Following a major restructure in 2019 of the venture investment organisation, the government committed $300 million to Elevate while appointing the NZ Superannuation Fund (NZS) in an oversight role. Elevate is charged with distributing the $300 million (of which $240 million was diverted from NZS government contributions) to a panel of underlying managers with dual goals of both funding local growth companies and building a sustainable NZ venture capital industry.
Since establishment, Elevate has invested just over $70 million in total to three managers: the Australia-based Blackbird Ventures ($22.75 million); the well-known NZ operation, Movac; and, start-up local ‘deep tech’ investment fund, Pacific Channel.