Partners Life is preparing to list on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, but only when the time is right, says the firm’s Managing Director Naomi Ballantyne.
Just before the year-end the firm announced its purchase of BNZ Life for $290 million, subject to regulatory approval, and confirmed plans to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to list the company.
“That’s always been the plan,” said Ballantyne. “And what we needed to do is get our business to the point of being cashflow positive. We have been incredibly successful at growing business, so we are close to that at Partners Life anyway.
“We need to be cashflow positive for any chance of a successful IPO because you need a dividend strategy. But when we bring the BNZ Life book in then that will accelerate that cashflow positive position and so allow us to accelerate our IPO plans.
“But I would caution that an IPO needs to be in a market that is conducive to its success.”
Ballantyne says there is no pressure from its offshore shareholders – Blackstone Group – to list any time soon.
“We are fortunate that our shareholders are patient and not putting pressure on us around timing for an IPO strategy,” she said.
“So we have the luxury of being able to pick when the market is right – but we have certainly taken care of that last step, to have a dividend strategy before we list.”
Could listing the firm, which has been built on being a “proudly New Zealand operated business” risk losing control of the firm to off-shore shareholders?
“I don’t think off-shore shareholders is a risk for us at all,” says Ballantyne. “I think it would be different if you are being acquired by a large international life insurer, for whom New Zealand is a subsidiary or a branch, because then the decisions tend to be made at the parent company level.”
See our story: Partners Life to Buy BNZ Life