Destination New Zealand: Jarden on the virtual and in-person experience

Aug 16, 2021
In the second of this two-part interview, Alana Barron of Jarden talks about the virtual experience, why Asian firms are less likely to visit New Zealand and what to do in your down time when you finally make it to New Zealand in person

Alana Barron, director of institutional equities and head of client solutions at Wellington-headquartered Jarden, previously talked to IR Magazine about the New Zealand investment scene and why its far-flung location makes it a great IR-only destination. Here she talks about which regions’ representatives have been visiting the country in recent years, how the pandemic changed corporate access and investor targeting, and what to do in your free time when you can finally visit for an in-person roadshow.

Have you seen an increase in companies adding New Zealand to their roadshow schedule in recent years? Are there any geographies or sectors where you’ve seen greater interest?

New Zealand investors see Australian companies throughout the year – some large-cap and plenty of small and mid-cap companies. 

New Zealand receives visits from technology companies and other high-growth businesses, and also more mature, cash-generative companies such as utility/pipeline firms. The latter tend to visit income funds and similar managers who seek geographical diversification from New Zealand’s own high-dividend paying companies.

Most New Zealand fund managers have an Australia/New Zealand mandate, rather than New Zealand only. These usually permit most – if not all – of the fund to be invested in Australia at any one time so it makes sense for companies to visit managers in New Zealand and the flight across from Sydney or Melbourne is short (3-3.5 hours).

With the institutional market being easily covered in under two days, it suits the time difference well. Additionally, several sectors, including telecommunications, gaming and healthcare, feature companies listed in both countries – making commentary and comparisons valuable.

Further afield, we do see some European and North American companies that have shareholders in New Zealand. They’re not frequent – given the distance from home markets – but New Zealand can be easily added on to an Australian roadshow (to Sydney and Melbourne). 

Despite its relative proximity, we see fewer Asian companies visiting the New Zealand market. This is likely because of the depth and breadth of conferences hosted in the Asia region that Australia and New Zealand fund managers visit the market for, allowing them to add on further activities, like site tours.

In what ways did this change as a result of everything going virtual in early 2020? How have virtual meetings and conferences evolved since the first round of lockdowns?

Travel restrictions due to Covid-19 have made video calls more popular and easier to schedule. This provides New Zealand fund managers easier access to one-on-one and group virtual meetings with international companies.

Most institutional fund managers will have a relationship with several brokers, each of whom have off-shore research and sales teams. This means they can be well connected to overseas businesses that they’re shareholders in, and also those which are competitors, suppliers or customers of the New Zealand and Australian companies they see regularly.

Covid-19’s disruptive effect on economies and businesses has, in many cases, provided the opportunity to hear from companies more often. These updates can offer the opportunity to learn more about how their businesses actually operate, rather than being focused on guidance-related metrics. Examples include Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Mainfreight and Port of Tauranga. These updates have offered unique insights into management teams, adaptability and business models that we may not otherwise have had – and all done virtually.  

Conferences are also shorter and offer more breaks, and more information is available to corporates about who has joined virtual meetings and conference sessions.

In-person meetings are still valued, though – even to a greater extent, in fact. Investors and corporates appear to appreciate the opportunity to connect in person where possible, and corporates are making an effort to be available to investors in periods outside of regular IR times.

We hear a lot about an increase in direct targeting since the start of the pandemic. Have you seen any shift in companies or investors choosing to do more themselves? What impact has there been (if any) on Jarden?

We support companies in various ways at Jarden – for some companies we will still arrange a virtual, global investor roadshow from start to finish. For others we will assist in gathering responses from a select few investors.

Other times, it is simply helping companies update their information if they’re going direct for the first time.  

Several large-cap companies are going direct to their actual shareholders in a more frequent, targeted fashion to offer an update on the business, but many other IR practitioners are seeing a much greater volume of enquiry generally so they are still happy to have the support for non-deal roadshows.

We haven’t seen these factors playing out in the work we do with clients – investors are absolutely still working with us to arrange calls and virtual meetings with companies.

With the opening of the trans-Tasman travel bubble, we have hosted investor trips between Australia and New Zealand. Again, pauses in the bubble due to new cases have occurred, so we adapt.

Over the past few months, we’ve hosted a few Australian investors, and these meetings have been very productive. Both sides report much satisfaction with being able to get face-to-face with listed companies, and of course their unlisted peers and industry experts too.

What has the appetite been like for in-person meetings since the end of lockdown?

Once New Zealand’s initial, nationwide lockdown ended in June 2020, Jarden welcomed staff back as they felt comfortable to return, and then clients, provided their recent travel or contacts weren’t linked to Covid-19 cases.

Clients of Jarden, as a reflection of what we saw across the business environment, were mostly enthusiastic to meet in-person again. Many prefer the ease of ability to ask questions and share ideas, the non-verbal cues and relationship building that all come from meeting face-to-face.

However, people will sometimes still elect to join virtually, and it is great to have that as an option. 

We have had a few instances where Covid-19 restrictions have been raised in certain areas, as a response to new cases, and we’ve been able to easily adapt back to virtual, if needed, for those periods.

Finally, New Zealand is famed for its scenery and landscape. Any tips for what to do in downtime once people can visit again in person?

We have a moderate climate, so any time of year works well to visit. However, we would avoid the Easter break (early April) and the time from mid-December to late January (the main New Zealand summer holiday).

We would also avoid school holiday periods, if possible, although most New Zealand buy-side firms are somewhat generalist in their coverage and would be able to have someone participate at any time.  

In the downtime, beautiful walks and hikes are easily accessible from most places in New Zealand.

When visiting Auckland, you can visit the renowned wineries of Waiheke Island in less than an hour – and the city’s waterfront is host to numerous fine-dining restaurants and local fashion designers.

Wellington, the capital, is also known for its food and craft beer scene. The city is home to our national museum, Te Papa. If you’re able to add a holiday on to your visit, Queenstown – in the Southern Alps – is a stunning spot, with lakes, mountains (skiing and snowboarding in winter) and excellent wineries.

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