Former FMA boss Rob Everett tipped to be new venture fund chief executive

The long running search for a new chief executive for a government-backed venture fund appears to have ended with Financial Markets Authority boss Rob Everett believed to have been appointed.

On Friday New Zealand Growth Capital Partners is expected to name a new chief executive, more than a year after its former head Richard Dellabarca abruptly left the organisation in August.

Since then NZGCP, previously known at the Venture Investment Fund, announced Daria Murray, who works at Kiwibank would become its new chief executive, however never took up the role, for reasons both the fund and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund have refused to discuss.

The Government directed the Super Fund to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into a fund to be managed by NZGCP and was meant to be given approval of key appointments.

At the end of 2020 the entire board of NZGCP resigned, with the exception of former Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief executive David Smol, who had recently joined and who became the fund’s chairman.

In January James Fletcher was announced at its interim chief executive, but he left recently to take a senior role at law firm DLA Piper.

Since then, James Pinner, who joined NZGCP in 2019 to establish the Elevate NZ Venture Fund, has been acting chief executive.

In March, the FMA announced Everett would be leaving the FMA “towards the end” of 2021.

A spokesman for NZGCP has not responded to a request for comment.

While the appointment of a permanent chief executive is likely to be welcomed in the investment market, the appointment of a top bureaucrat – when the fund is already chaired by a former top bureaucrat – may not excite private venture fund providers which tent to invest alongside NZGCP in early stage innovative companies.

The Government “might as well have the auditor-general running it” one venture fund figure said of the news.

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