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Forte Funds share purchases prompt disclosure notices

Forte Funds share purchases prompt disclosure notices from Skellerup CEO Mair

By Paul McBeth

Sep. 2 (BusinessDesk) - Recent purchases by four-month old Forte Funds Management, run by former deputy head of equities AMP Capital John Phipps and ex-Harbour Asset Management strategist Darryl Briggs, has prompted disclosure notices from Skellerup chief executive and A2 Milk Co director David Mair.

Forte launched a prospectus in May with an intention to hold a "limited number of investments", tending to be shares in companies "we believe have or can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage over competing companies." Two recent investments have triggered disclosure notices by Mair, who is a co-owner of the fund manager.

A notice today showed Forte bought $800,000 shares in Skellerup at an average price of $1.60 apiece, a week after the rubber goods maker reported annual earnings that missed analysts' expectations, and the stock fell near an 11-month low. The shares were unchanged at $1.56 today.

"The issue is I'm a part-owner of a fund manager, Forte Funds Management Ltd," Mair told BusinessDesk. "When they buy shares, because I own greater than 20 percent, the issue is I'm deemed to have a relevant interest as a director and chief executive of Skellerup."

A series of A2 share purchases by Forte through July and August prompted similar disclosure notices by Mair, who's a director of the milk marketing firm. Forte bought 822,500 shares at an average price of about 63.3 cents between July 29 and Aug. 26. Shares of A2 rose 1.6 percent to 63 cents today.

Mair said he's blind to the investment decisions made by Forte, getting the disclosure notice requirements at the last minute, and has been reluctant to ask the regulator for a waiver, given the fund's short life.

"I'm going to let things settle down and see the regulator and say 'this doesn't make a lot of sense to me but I understand that's what I have to do, but how can you help me here?'," Mair said. "If they say I have to keep doing, then that's it, that's the law."

(BusinessDesk)

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