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Current as of 27/11/14 08:00AM NZST

Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Fund wants 20 firms listed

Government-backed NZVIF expects to have invested in 180 local firms by 2017

Martin Jetpack is part of the fund's portfolio of companies. Photo / Supplied
Martin Jetpack is part of the fund's portfolio of companies. Photo / Supplied

The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund has set an aggressive target of getting 15 to 20 of its portfolio companies listed on the NZX over the next decade.

The Government-backed fund has invested in 125 local firms and expects that number to grow to 180 by 2017.

NZVIF chief executive Franceska Banga concedes that taking up to 20 of its firms public is an ambitious target.

Since the fund's establishment in 2002 only one of its portfolio companies, cloud accounting software provider Xero, has floated on the stock exchange.

"When you set yourself an ambitious goal you start thinking about what needs to happen to achieve it," Banga said. "It's deliberately ambitious."

Another NZVIF portfolio company, Blenheim-based craft beer maker Moa, is mulling a listing and the Business Herald understands the company has been meeting with fund managers to gauge market interest.

Geoff Ross, whose Business Bakery owns a stake in Moa, said the company was looking at various options for funding an expansion of its brewery, but it was too early to say exactly which route would be taken.

NZVIF needed to work with the investment and sharebroking community on building a pipeline of prospective listings, Banga said.

"If this can be achieved, the NZX will benefit from a deeper, broader offering to investors from more high-growth technology companies being listed."

She said NZX chief executive Tim Bennett was interested in working together with the fund on getting more of its portfolio firms listed.

"I think that's very encouraging."

Banga said that for companies to list they would need to prove themselves through raising $2 million to $5 million from private investors. A major challenge for New Zealand growth firms was the lack of follow-on investment in the $5 million to $10 million range.

"For many companies strategic acquisitions by large international competitors are the preferred way to fund the next stage of development and that will remain the case," Banga said. "But we need to develop the domestic IPO [initial public offering] market as a viable ... alternative."

Over the past decade 32 local technology firms have been acquired by overseas buyers, according to figures from the Technology Investment Network.

Diverse portfolio
NZVIF's portfolio companies include:
* Yike Bike
* Martin Jetpack
* Moa Brewing Company
* BioVittoria
* Nexus6
* IkeGPS
* Zephyr Technology
* TracPlus

- NZ Herald

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