BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL WITH SCOTT ROCHFORT – Daily Telegraph – June 13, 2014
|Miles Staude and (inset) Chris Cuffe.|
Don’t be fooled by the quiet demeanour and good manners, this 37-year-old doesn’t mind creating the
occasional drama at a shareholder meeting.
The Sydney-born Miles Staude, who led one of the most audacious campaigns to gain a seat on the board of
a Macquarie fund, has been back in Australia raising $100 million for an activist investment fund that he plans
for the ASX next month.
And the chief activist from the London investment manager Metage Capital has attracted some of the local
fund management industry’s biggest names on to the board of the Global Value Fund. His fellow directors
include the former Colonial First State and Challenger chief executive Chris Cuffe and prominent board
agitator and Wilson Asset Management chairman Geoff Wilson. The company is chaired by the former
Freehills partner Jonathan Trollip.
A recent presentation from Metage reflects Staude’s well-groomed and politely spoken persona. “Engaging
proactively with companies, boards and other shareholders is an essential element in the value extraction
proposition. A tool we use judiciously, but with force,’’ said the presentation about its strategy to challenge
and sometimes roll company boards.
Of the 140 different investments it has made over the past two years, Metage noted how “15 required direct
actions to bring about change”.
It is nearly two years since Staude called a shareholder meeting to have himself — and two other hedge-fund
managers — appointed to the board of the Singapore-listed Macquarie International Infrastructure Fund.
Their campaign included running newspaper ads highlighting the fund’s shortcomings, along with the excess
fees charged by its manager Macquarie.
While Staude didn’t get a seat on the MIIF board, the fund buckled to pressure by changing its fee
arrangements with its manager Macquarie and paying a one-off special dividend to shareholders.
Staude explained to BizCon yesterday he believed his strategy relied more on persuasion than brawn.
“The way I went into this thing was to have the best argument,’’ said the former mining analyst in relation to
his clash with Macquarie.
To help Global Value Fund along, Wilson will chip in $1 million and Cuffe $100,000. Cuffe’s involvement with
Global Value could also see him develop the reputation as an activist himself. For one, he chairs the fund
manager UniSuper which is agitating against Westfield Retail Trust’s plans to merge its assets with Westfield
Group’s Australian and New Zealand shopping centre assets.Sadly for locals who love a board spill, the GVF
has signalled it is keen on pursuing overseas-listed companies despite being listed on the ASX.