Milford Asset Management's principal Brian Gaynor is taking a step back from the fund manager's investment operations, handing over portfolio management to people with the international experience he says is needed due to the lack of investment opportunity in New Zealand.

From April 1, Gaynor will relinquish his role as portfolio manager of the active growth funds, he told investors in an email today. Gaynor will continue as Milford's head of investments and as chair of investment meetings.

Gaynor, who owns 23 per cent of Milford, said the move was part of a carefully developed succession plan to improve the performance of funds and was one Milford had been planning for some time.

"I see the whole market in New Zealand changing quite a bit, with KiwiSaver particularly, because the New Zealand share market is so small and there are so few investment opportunities we're having to invest more and more offshore," Gaynor told BusinessDesk. "Some of the people we've employed have worked in New York and London and places like that, they have more exposure and experience in those places than I have - I'm probably more specialised in New Zealand and Australia.

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"Our share market isn't growing, our capital markets aren't growing - the active growth funds total between them all $1.5 billion, as it gets bigger it just doesn't have the opportunities for growth within New Zealand," Gaynor said.

Law firm Chapman Tripp today predicted a grim outlook for new investment opportunities on the NZX this year, saying the pipeline for new initial public offerings was likely to be as thin as last year and that efforts to attract small firms to the NXT and NZAX junior boards had largely failed.

Gaynor said Milford has been deliberately looking to employ people who had worked offshore within its 18-strong investment team for the past few years, with the belief that people who have worked overseas were exposed to different strategies and techniques than people who have worked in New Zealand.

His move comes as another high-profile fund manager, Carmel Fisher also looks to dial back her day-to-day involvement at Fisher Funds Management. Milford had already seen a change of chief executive with the appointment of Troy Swann last year, while First NZ Capital's head of securities James Lee is set to replace chief executive Scott St John in April.

Milford's Jonathan Windust will take over as manager of the active growth funds, with William Curtayne as co-manager. Windust will also continue as co-manager of the diversified investment Fund, with David Lewis, who has been co-manager for the past year, taking over as lead portfolio manager. Windust and Lewis will remain joint deputy heads of investments.

Sam Tretheway will become the portfolio manager of the NZ equities wholesale fund and trans-Tasman fund with Wayne Gentle, who already manages the Australian division.
Mark Riggall will manage the balanced fund, with Paul Morris as his co-manager, while Morris will manage the conservative fund with Riggall as co-manager.