An investment chief has questioned the importance of a giant funds management business buying more than 5 per cent of ASX and NZX-listed Fletcher Building, warning that people should not get excited about that.
"My concern is if someone sees that, thinks Fletcher is in play and goes out and buys shares," said the Auckland-based chief, who spoke to the Herald under the condition of anonymity.
After speculation late last week that ASX-listed Wesfarmers had bought a 3-4 per cent Fletcher stake, the price rocketed from Thursday's $5.84 to $6.35 on Friday - providing a strong indication of the current hype on Fletcher.
The chief was responding to a Herald article today reporting that Ellerston Capital in Sydney wrote to the ASX on Friday, saying it has become a substantial Fletcher shareholder. Ellerston, with more than A$5 billion (NZ$5.27 billion) under management, now controls 5.13 per cent of the shares of the Penrose-headquartered builder, materials manufacturer, supplier and distributor on behalf of an unnamed party.
Clients of the Sydney-headquartered business "include Government, industry and corporate superannuation funds, international funds as well as individual investors via leading investment administration platforms," Ellerston said.
The Auckland-based investment specialist said: "Ellerston is looking for value, if you look at Fletcher verses its peers."
The Penrose-headquartered business was trading at a price-earnings multiple well below Australasian counterparts, he said.
That meant it was good value.
"Buying more than 5 per cent shows you're active. If you own 4.6 per cent of the company and the stories about Wesfarmers come out, you go over 5 per cent. You have nothing to lose. You've pointed out you own a big stake," he said.
He also questioned whether Wesfarmers had bought into Fletcher, following a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
It did not make sense to him that Wesfarmers would be interested in Fletcher, due to anti-competitive regulations which would restrict any takeover.
Wesfarmers via Bunnings had a share of the trade market in New Zealand but Fletcher's Placemakers had a much larger share, he said.
"There's no way the New Zealand Commerce Commission would allow a merger of those two," he said of any Wesfarmers takeover of Fletcher.
Comment has been sought from Fletcher on Ellerston's announcement.