TSB Bank managing director Kevin Murphy is declining to comment on a report the New Plymouth-based bank is looking to buy into Auckland-based KiwiSaver provider Fisher Funds Management.
The NZ Herald's Stock Takes column reported that, with Fisher having expanded in recent years by buying other KiwiSaver providers including Huljich Wealth Management, the reason for building scale could be to sell with "speculation centring around TSB Bank buying in."
Asked by interest.co.nz whether TSB was looking at Carmel Fisher's Fisher Funds, Murphy said: "I'm unable to comment."
TSB's not a direct KiwiSaver provider currently but has an association with SuperLife. According to Morningstar, Fisher had NZ$660 million of KiwiSaver funds under management, as of December, making it the eighth biggest KiwiSaver provider.
"All financial institutions are looking at opportunities in the KiwiSaver market," Murphy added.
However, he wouldn't comment on whether TSB had, or was, looking to buy into existing providers.
"We continue to look at opportunities," Murphy said.
Carmel Fisher hasn't returned calls seeking comment.
News of TSB's ambitions to step up its involvement in KiwiSaver comes as another bank, BNZ, registers its own KiwiSaver scheme.
Founded in 1998 by managing director Carmel Fisher and her husband Hugh, Fisher Funds' website says it now has more than NZ$1 billion under management on behalf of about 130,000 investors. According to Companies Office records, the businesses major shareholders are Carmel and Hugh Fisher with 47.1%, and Woodward Funds Management with 26%. Woodward is associated with the interests of the late Lloyd Morrison and owned by Morrison Nominees Ltd.
Companies Office records also show Fisher Funds produced profit after tax of NZ$1.765 million in the year to March 2012, down from NZ$4.3 million the previous year. Annual net income was NZ$13.5 million, of which NZ413.4 million stemmed from fees. As of last March, the business had assets of NZ$24.6 million and liabilities of NZ$19.4 million. Included in the liabilities was NZ$17.2 million of bank debt with ANZ. Notes to the financial statements say an ANZ loan matures in May 2014 and that Fisher Funds had paid an average interest rate of 6.7% on its bank debt in the year to March 2012.
Fisher Funds got Financial Markets Authority approval last April to transfer over about 3,700 Credit Union KiwiSaver scheme members with a net value of NZ$30 million. Separately, Fisher Funds paid NZ$20.9 million for Huljich Wealth Management's KiwiSaver business in 2011.
Of its existing KiwiSaver relationship with SuperLife TSB says: "As part of our promise to bring real service to banking, TSB Bank is committed to being involved in KiwiSaver. It is with this in mind that we have carefully chosen a KiwiSaver provider to ensure your retirement savings will be working for you. SuperLife Limited is 100% New Zealand owned and a KiwiSaver scheme provider. TSB Bank's KiwiSaver solution is provided through SuperLife Limited's KiwiSaver scheme and offers employers, employees, non-employees and children, low cost professionally managed retirement savings funds."
(Update adds further detail on Fisher Funds).