Lonsec snaps up van Eyk's iRate, customers

7 November 2014
The Australian Financial Review
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Research and investment consulting house Lonsec is focused on retaining van Eyk's financial planning customers, after agreeing to buy the failed company's iRate technology and client base from its administrators.

The parties did not disclose terms of the transaction in a statement on Thursday, but the deal covers several hundred planning practices which service about 3000 financial planners.

The demise of van Eyk, which ­gathered pace in August, and the brand damage that followed, has put the ­spotlight on customer retention. ­Independent funds research firms in the local market include Lonsec, ­Morningstar, Zenith and Mercer.

The acquisition will save Lonsec at least 18 months of developing time and testing, if it were to develop its own ­platform. iRate is an online platform that allowed access van Eyk's specialist investment research, market reports and portfolio tools.

"The immediate priority is to ensure the existing services to iRate clients are maintained as seamlessly as possible, and that these clients have confidence in the research and rigour," the research unit's chief David Erdonmez said. He also said Lonsec was committed to forging ahead with the release of iRate version five, expected in the first quarter next year.

Van Eyk's local operations came unstuck when news of an illiquid investment in one of its Blueprint investment funds came to light. It spurred responsible entity Macquarie Group to freeze four funds and later ­terminate all but one of the 14 ­investment vehicles.

That occurred after an avalanche of redemptions, and it wasn't long after administrator Moore Stephens was called in.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is also scrutinising the van Eyk collapse.

Thursday's transaction is expected to be complete in three weeks, the statement said.

The deal also comes, however, amid speculation that holding company ­Lonsec Fiscal Group may itself be on the block.

In September, talk centred on Lonsec Fiscal, which is 40 per cent owned by venture capitalist Mark Carnegie, being prepared for sale following an approach from a strategic buyer.