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Govt raids Super Fund to boost venture capital funding

By Pattrick Smellie

May 30 (BusinessDesk) - The government will divert $240 million of contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and combine it with $60 million of assets held by the Venture Investment Fund to improve access to capital for growing, mid-sized businesses that struggle for growth.

“This will help keep more start-ups in New Zealand for longer and support the proportion of New Zealand ownership,” said Economic Development Minister David Parker.

The new fund would draw on the NZ Super Fund Guardians’ advice for “a best practice commercial approach to support the NZ VIF in making venture capital investments to take start-up businesses to the next level.”

Mid-sized companies in the $2 million to $15 million annual turnover range were not well supported by New Zealand’s capital markets, although start-ups were able to get funding.

“Filling that gap will help reduce pressure on companies to sell prematurely to overseas buyers, which happens when you have weak early-stage capital markets,” said Parker.

The Budget documents say that “multiple venture capital funds will be created at scale that will offer highly specialised capability and expertise”.

To put the Super Fund raid in perspective, Parker noted the Fund would still receive contributions from the government of $9.6 billion over the next five years.

The Budget also contains $25.5 million of new spending over four years to assist the commercialisation of innovation.

Callaghan Innovation’s long-stalled rejuvenation of its Gracefield site, at Petone, appears to be green-lit, with some $25 million in operating spending and $50 million in capital set aside to address long-standing deficiencies and underinvestment, and to develop a long term vision for the site.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise scores an additional $20 million over four years to support exporters, while the New Zealand Food Innovation Network gains an extra $9.6 million.

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