The chair and chief investment officer of the boutique fund manager Altair Asset Management has become embroiled in an increasingly complex, public and bizarre war of words since telling his clients he would return their money late last month. Here’s the latest.
Philip Parker, who declined to comment to ‘The Rub’ more than a week ago – in fact, hanging up on our phone call after we declined to reveal how we came by our information, before he revealed some of it himself in various other press outlets – told his clients that they should get out of the toppy markets, largely due to Australian east-cost property prices.
But, as events unfolded last week, Parker was revealed to be involved in a court case with his mother, Mary Parker, and to have had one of his co-directors, John Hall, tell ASIC in April that he had resigned from the company because he was not being given enough information to perform his duties as a director.
Another director and former chief financial officer of the firm, Graham Batten, had resigned from the private company last October, without explanation to ASIC.
The case between Mary Parker and her son Philip, who is the founder, chair and CIO of boutique equities manager Altair, is ongoing, with the next hearing not expected until September. Directional hearings went before Sydney’s Supreme Court last Friday.
The elderly Mary Parker, according to a report in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ last week, is suing her son’s company, in which she was an investor.
The dispute centres on a loan obtained by Pepsec, an entity linked to Philip Parker, from Attis Capital. That loan was obtained using Mrs Parker’s multimillion-dollar share portfolio as collateral, which was subsequently sold.
Mrs Parker argues that she never approved the transfer nor the sale of her shares, and is seeking redress through the courts. Attis Capital denies all wrongdoing. Phillip Parker, in his response to the suit, noted that his mother was not seeking financial recompense from Pepsec.
The case only hit the headlines, though, after Philip Parker strangely wrote to his investors last month to tell them he believed that the markets were over-priced because of an east-coast property price bubble. He offered to return investors’ money, if they wished, recommending they stay out of the market for several months.
‘The Rub’ sighted a copy of the message to investors but when we contacted Parker he demanded to know how we obtained the information. We declined to tell him and he promptly hung up. The next day, however, he published his first-person account in the share newsletter ‘LiveWire’ and was quoted in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ saying his decision to offer investors their money back was based on his view of the markets.
It was not until later last week that the court actions and other information, such as John Hall’s resignation, came to light.