Christchurch Three Years On: Financial overview enjoyed by Murray & Co
South Island merchant bank Christchurch-based Murray & Co has enjoyed a prominent overview of post-earthquake business activity.
The firm advised the government on the financial feasibility of the anchor projects proposed for Christchurch’s CBD. It also provides financial and investment services to companies, institutions, trusts and families.
“Three years on, we are seeing some interesting trends occurring in Christchurch, with the arrival of skilled immigrants, innovation in the tech sector and development in the agriculture sector as irrigation schemes gain momentum,” Murray & Co’s managing director, Justin Murray, says.
He acknowledges there has been some criticism about the pace of progress in the central city but says there are also some positive initiatives.
He says commercial development along Victoria St shows how much progress is being made. It has a mix of retail, commercial office space, bars, cafes and restaurants.
“In part, this is because one property investor [Richard Diver] had the foresight to acquire a substantial portion of Victoria St and promote a vision for the area,” Mr Murray told NBR.
With fewer individual property owners involved, the area already conveys a sense of direction, and Murray & Co is moving back there in October.
This “coherence” also seems to be occurring on Cambridge Terrace, a main street one block to the west of the old CBD overlooking the Avon River.
He is also seeing the impact of skilled migrants and how they are contributing to the physical rebuild as well as the technology sector and cultural fabric of the city.
Technology successes include stage one of the EPIC Centre – Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus – for 20 innovation companies in the CBD. Murray & Co advised EPIC on the financing of its 2800sq m Sanctuary building.
There was also the 2013 initial public offering of one of the EPIC tenants, local firm SLI Systems, for listing on the NZX.
Mr Murray anticipates an expanding technology sector in Christchurch, providing opportunities for returning Kiwis and skilled migrants, who he expects to thrive in the new dynamic environment and will view Christchurch as the “family capital” of Asia Pacific, with excellent schools and lots of accessible recreational opportunities.
Managing investment portfolios for aspiring migrants to achieve residency is another area of expertise at Murray & Co.
The earthquakes have also been a catalyst for increased transparency and scrutiny, Mr Murray says.
This has been evident in relation the financial reporting of the Christchurch City Council. Along with ratepayers, the business and investment community are watching with interest to see the finalised report on the council’s financial position and possible asset sales.
Mr Murray considers there would be strong interest from a range of parties for any assets determined to be non-core to the council’s purpose.
Aside from the rebuilding activity currently dominating Christchurch’s economy, Mr Murray also notes the critical economic importance of Canterbury’s agricultural hinterland and the development of large irrigation schemes.
Murray & Co has been financial adviser to some of the largest schemes in the South Island, including Central Plains Water in Canterbury which is being commissioned currently.
Read: the rest of the Christchurch Three Years On feature stories here