News

50 shareholder limit amended in Takeovers Code

The folks at Simmonds Stewart have written about the recent change to the Takeovers Code, which mean that companies now have to have 50 or more shareholders AND have over $30mil in assets or $15mil in revenue to become a code company. There are still reasons to minimise the number of shareholders on the cap table, although many companies can mitigate those reasons using modern digital tools to manage shareholders.

Read more here: https://simmondsstewart.com/blogs/takeovers-code-updated-to-exclude-small-unlisted-companies/

Lanaco helping manufacture masks to help limit spread of COVID-19

With a global shortage of face masks, Lanaco has been using their wool-based air filter technology to manufacture millions of masks quickly over the last couple of weeks. The wool comes from a specially bred sheep, which has a high electrostatic charge that attracts particles towards the filter and allows air to flow through.

Read more here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/119759842/cactus-outdoor-launches-wool-face-mask-amid-global-shortage

Aroa Biosurgery aiming for ASX IPO

Aroa Biosurgery, manufacturer of high-tech wound dressings and soft tissue repair products, is targeting an IPO at a $300mil valuation on the Australian Stock Exchange. With a May target listing date, this comes hot on the heels of the company posting $25mil in revenue and the first year in profit, and would be huge for the New Zealand biotech industry.

Read more here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12306150 and https://www.afr.com/street-talk/aroa-biosurgery-to-patch-up-300m-listing-20200204-p53xhm

The story of a successful cannabis start-up

Alejandro Cremades interviews Mitchell Kahn in this podcast episode about Grassroots Cannabis, which was acquired by Curaleaf for just under USD$900mil in the middle of 2019. The episode has some really interesting insights into the cannabis industry, and a lot more about raising capital, identifying market opportunities, and the value of people. Matū is closely monitoring some of the trends in this space, but there are also good lessons generally for those wanting to go on the venture capital start-up path.

Listen and read more here: https://alejandrocremades.com/this-lawyer-turned-entrepreneur-just-sold-his-cannabis-business-for-almost-900-million/

Is Venture Debt coming to NZ?

Benjamin Chong at Right Click Capital has penned a piece introducing Venture Debt. As far as we know, there haven’t been any venture debt deals in New Zealand yet, but one of the new Technology Incubators is a major supporter of this funding instrument, so this may change. Sometimes pitched as an alternative to venture capital/equity funding, we view it as being more complementary, especially for start-ups that might find it difficult to raise a bridging round.

Read more here: https://www.startupdaily.net/2019/12/venture-debt-friend-or-foe-for-startup-founders/

Navigating Ethical Investing

Sustainability and ethical practices have become a hot topic over the past few years. With many people jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, the pressure has been on for companies and industries to incorporate better practices into their business.

The early-stage industry is no different; sustainable investments have increased by 40% in New Zealand in the last year alone1. This movement has seen the rise of impact funds, which invest into companies with the intention of providing measurable, positive social or environmental impact as well as financial returns2. This is not a niche market; as of 2018 there were US$502 billion of impact investing assets under management globally3.

Outside of specific impact investing funds, others have been updating their policies to incorporate more sustainable investments as well. People may be familiar with ethical investment policies which exclude things like tobacco, drugs and illegal activities, but more recently these policies have evolved to encompass the environmental effects and long-term sustainability of the companies they invest in.

It’s important to note that not all funds that have taken on board more ethical practices are the same. There are impact funds whose sole focus is to support and invest in projects which will positively benefit the environment, and there are funds that have some form of ethical investment policies which guide their investment decisions. There is also a third category of funds who have no official ethical guidelines in their investment mandate. Whether you’re looking to place your money in a fund that supports ethical and sustainable projects or you’re looking to raise money from such a fund, it’s important to know the differences in order to select what is best for you.

An impact fund is likely to advertise itself as such and there are organisations, such as B Lab, who have created certifications that require an investment fund to ensure that responsible investing is upheld4 all the way down to their legal structure5. These funds often have Ethical, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting requirements and portfolio selection criteria which they integrate into the management of the fund6.

If a fund is not specifically an impact investment fund, it doesn’t necessarily mean that no attention is paid to the ethical and sustainable practices of the fund and their portfolio companies. Funds can sit along a spectrum of ethical investment activities from no ethical consideration to impact investing. Some of these activities may include screening out companies which have a direct negative impact on the environment, or screening specifically for companies which have more social or environmental benefit than others7. Matū and Punakaiki Fund are two examples of funds which have their ethical investment policies publicly available on the website8,9 and the Impact Enterprise Fund (https://impactenterprisefund.co.nz/) is an example of an impact fund in NZ.

It is important to determine what core values you would like both the fund and the companies they invest in to have, and what you would feel comfortable having your money supporting before deciding on what fund is right for you. For example, if you wouldn’t want to support a company that doesn’t ensure fair wages for all the workers along their supply chain, then you need to make sure you don’t invest in a fund that would support that.  

Every fund will have their own individual criteria so make sure you do your research to ensure they are the right fit for you. The presence of an ethical investment policy alone does not guarantee that it will match your preferences either; the content of that policy is just as important. For example, a fund may invest in companies that have a social underpinning, which you might align with, but one of those companies sells cannabis products, which you might not align with. It can be tricky to navigate the details of each fund’s ethical priorities, but asking questions or having a thorough read of their investment mandate should help to determine if a fund’s investment decisions align with your values. Also, just because a fund has “impact” or “responsible” in the name, doesn’t mean that they necessarily actually follow through on that, so asking questions and doing your due diligence is the best way to cut through and get the truth.

There is a variety of information on the returns of funds which incorporate ESG practices into their businesses. However, the general consensus seems to be that they return similar returns to the funds which don’t10,11. If it’s not something you’ve considered before, I would encourage you to do so and help create a market push so that more funds incorporate varying degrees of ESG practices. The world is already burning, so do we really want to be funding new businesses that fuel the fire?


1 NZ Herald, “Ethical Investing Hits New Highs
2 Responsible Investment Association Australia, “Impact Investor Insights 2019 Aotearoa New Zealand
3 Global Impact Investing Network, “What You Need to Know about Impact Investing
4 Greene, “A Short Guide to Impact Investing.”
5 Certified B Corporation, “Certification.”
6 Responsible Investment Association Australia, “Impact Investor Insights 2019 Aotearoa New Zealand
7 Noted, “Investing Ethically Is Good for Your Wealth
8 Punakaiki Fund, “Key Documents
9 Matū Fund, “About the Fund
10 Global Impact Investing Network, “What You Need to Know about Impact Investing
11 Icehouse, “Impact Investing

Angel Association Award Winners Announced

The Angels Association of New Zealand held its annual summit last week. Matū was well represented with Greg Sitters, Ken Erskine, and Andrew Chen from the staff team attending, as well as Dana McKenzie and Suse Reynolds from our Investment Committee, and Bridget Unsworth from the Commercial Advisory Board.

A big congratulations to our good friend Katherine Sandford for winning the Puawaitanga Award for her leadership and support as the investor-director chair of UBCO, a Tauranga-based company developing and selling electric motor bikes.

Scott Gilmour was recognised as Arch Angel for 2019, having been a critical and foundational part of the ICE Angels and broader NZ angel community. Suse Reynolds was surprised with the Kotahitanga Award for building unity and developing a shared sense of working together, building and strengthening the angel community into something much bigger. She has been a leader in the early-stage angel investment and start-up ecosystem for over a decade, and we are very happy that her efforts have been recognised.

Read more here: https://www.angelassociation.co.nz/angel-awards-announced-suse-reynolds-katherine-sandford-and-tim-allan-recognised/ and https://www.angelassociation.co.nz/scott-gilmour-named-new-zealand-arch-angel-2019/

Solar Concentrators at VUW

The Spinoff has covered Nate Davis’s laboratory and the solar concentrators they are developing, which may revolutionise solar electricity generation by diffusing light sideways efficiently. This would allow for photovoltaic panels to be embedded in all sorts of places, like in the sides of windows with the light being distributed to the sides of the pane of glass. By significantly reducing the land cost of solar electricity generation, and also supporting distributed generation, this technology could significantly disrupt the way renewable energy is generated in the future.

Read more here: https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/05-11-2019/how-to-make-solar-electricity-cheap-move-light-sideways/