19 Jul 2012

Tower cuts Australian investments in favour of NZ

7:45 am on 19 July 2012

One of the country's largest fund managers is cutting its investments in Australia and putting more money in New Zealand, saying it's a safer place to invest in the current environment.

Tower Investments, which manages around $4 billion, says 55% of its funds are now invested in New Zealand equities, bonds and commercial property, its highest ever level.

Chief executive Sam Stubbs says New Zealand has relatively low Government debt, declining but still high commodity prices, and KiwiSaver money which firms can use to develop and expand.

He says the Australian economy is effectively a two speed economy, the mining sector is still going very well but the rest of the economy is struggling.

Mr Stubbs says currently it's very hard for Tower Investments to find Australian companies which represent good value and have a good growth story.

He says it's been a phenomena which has been happening in Australia for awhile and Tower has been pulling money out for the last 12 months.

Mr Stubbs says until Australia has a reasonably major correction in terms of the value of its mining stock and until the currency comes down to the point where other companies in Australia can be competitive, it's not going to be a particularly safe or comfortable place to invest.

He says there's a growing appetite for commercial and industrial property, with some cashed-up Cantabrians buying into the Auckland market.

And Mr Stubbs says state-owned firms earmarked for partial sale will mainly end up in New Zealanders' hands once they list.

He says people are likely to be surprised by the domestic demand in the power companies.

Mr Stubbs says it's likely that over time the vast majority of shares in these companies will be owned either by New Zealanders directly or by KiwiSaver funds.

In offshore markets, Mr Stubbs says there's potential for a "pop" in US equities after the presidential elections, while he believes the bull run on bonds could be ending.