Infratil says it is business as usual, but ready to roll, as it switches chief executive

Infratil has announced the departure of its long time chief executive, with the infrastructure investor insisting it is business as usual, but also readying itself for a possible takeover attempt.

The NZX-listed fund, which jointly owns Vodafone New Zealand, has a majority shareholding in Trustpower and Wellington Airport as well as other assets, announced on Wednesday that Marko Bogoievski would stand down as chief executive at the start of April.

Bogoievski, who has headed the company for 12 years, will remain as chief executive at Morrison & Co, the investment bank which manages Infratil.

He will be replaced by Jason Boyes, the former Buddle Findlay partner who joined Morrison & Co in 2011. Boyes led the initial public offering of Z Energy in 2013, heads Infratil’s Europe business and currently chairs two of its renewable energy businesses.

It will be the first time that Infratil and Morrison & Co are not run by the same person.

The change comes as investors wait for news on whether Infratil will receive another takeover approach after AustralianSuper revealed it had made a non-binding $5.4 billion approach in December.

Infratil rejected the offer and said it would not engage at that level.

Infratil chief executive Mark Tume said discussions about succession at the fund had been under way for nearly two years and the announcement was not related to recent events.

“It’s not a decision that’s fallen out of the sky … It’s not reflective of recent context or recent events,” Tume said.”We are very much in business as usual mode. This is something we had been shoring up since the middle of last year.”

He was delighted with the appointment of Boyes, who he described as “the only and obvious choice”.

Since AustralianSuper publicised its bid, there have been reports from across the Tasman that IFM Investors could also be preparing a bid, but so far nothing had materialised.

Bogoievski has said the company needs to continue to go about its business as if there would be no offer, but confirmed that work had also been done to ready itself for a bid process.

“We are obviously prepared, whether it’s Aus Super or anyone else who turns up with a scheme proposal or a takeover bid.

“There’s a pretty standard playbook, on how you appropriately respond, working through your independent directors, [get] updated views on valuations and alternatives and so on.

“You can rest assured we have nailed down every single piece that we can control, and if it’s a fire drill, that’s fine. It’s all good practice for independent boards. But yes, we’re prepared.”

Days before the AustralianSuper bid became public, Infratil announced a strategic review of its controlling stake in windfarm developer Tilt Renewables (a process Boyes is leading).

Since then Infratil has announced a revaluation of its Australian data centre business, CDC, while Trustpower has put its retail business up for sale.

Boyes said he was ready for the role as the head of a listed company and had considered that he may arrive to a takeover process.

“It certainly hasn’t past my judgement that that might be the case, but I think it is the right thing for Infratil to be continuing on with its own business.”

After a decade at the company, Boyes said he brought to the role “a deep understanding of what we have and where we’re trying to take the business”.

He enjoyed meeting with both institutional and retail investors and believed as chief executive the company “might do more of that than we’ve done in the past, even though I think we’re really good at it”.

A change in strategy or direction was unlikely. “I think there’s more to be done in energy and digital infrastructure” as well as more opportunities for its healthcare team.

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