Australian investment manager drops fruit market bid

VGI Partners, which manages investments for family offices, high net worths and endowments, said it wanted to use the bid to force change at Brisbane Markets.

Sydney investment manager VGI Partners subsidiary Produce Markets Queensland has allowed its A$145 million ($109 million; €98 million) bid to take over fruit market company Brisbane Markets to expire, saying it was launched to push for change at the company.

The bid from VGI, which represents family offices, high net worth and endowments, was conditional on BML removing the special rights attached to the industry shares owned by its operator, Brismark.

“PMQ has been clear at all times that its primary objective for the offer was to implement governance reforms at Brisbane Markets. We have called for the removal of the special rights attaching to the industry shares and references to the special rights and industry shares being removed from the constitution,” wrote PMQ chairman David Jones.

VGI owns its 20 percent stake in BML through Produce Markets Queensland, but also has holdings in similar produce markets around the country, according to a person close to the matter. The source added that the firm makes long-term investments rather than shorter, private equity-style plays, and that BML’s portrayal of the family office as a short-term investor was misleading.

The firm also made complaints to the company over the independence of its remuneration committee, including the company’s chief executive, according to documents published by VGI earlier this year.

BML said VGI’s offer had been an attempt to take control of the company, and that market tenants did not want a private equity fund as a landlord.

VGI Partners has more than $650 million in holdings.