In the spirit of reconciliation Sohn Hearts & Minds acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

Fundies and billionaires party in Hobart

James Thomson, Jemima Whyte, Jonathan Shapiro, Emma Rapaport and Alex Gluyas
Nov 18, 2022

Conference founders Matthew Grounds, Guy Fowler and Gary Weiss addressed major donors and business luminaries in the temple to sex, death and art built by David Walsh.

They included retail billionaire Solomon Lew and wife Roza, fund manager David Paradice, Alceon’s Phil Green and Trevor Lowensohn, Caledonia’s Mark Nelson and Wilson Asset Management founder Geoff Wilson.

Gil McLachlan, David Paradice and Geoff Wilson party at MONA. Amy Brown

UniSuper chief investment officer John Pearce, freshly minted Myer director Terry McCartney, Future Fund’s Ben Samild and UBS bigwig and Sohn stalwart Michael Walsh also mingled with the crowd.

Grounds paid special tribute – twice, to make sure he addressed the guests on both levels – to the “Tasmanian mafia”, including Premier Jeremy Rockliff, Bruce Neill and Ed Kemp, but spared MONA mastermind Walsh (dressed in bright green sneakers and velvet jacket) and his wife Kirsha Kaechele from that description.

Walsh was an enthusiastic host, offering personal guided tours of his magical kingdom after the first ferry load of guests were greeted with a conch-blowing ceremony and semaphore flag signallers.

Sporting figures including Test cricket opener-turned-growth investor Ed Cowan, tennis great Pat Rafter, former Melbourne Football Club captain Jack Trengove and outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan were also in attendance. (Don’t forget that Tassie team, Gil!)

David Walsh, left, and Kirsha Kaechele. Amy Brown

While the taxi rank at Hobart Airport swelled with fund managers from Melbourne and Sydney, there were guests from further afield too. Venture capitalist and soccer team founder Kara Nortman arrived from Los Angeles, AC Milan owner Gerry Cardinale jetted in from London, and Joyce Meng from FACT Capital made the journey from New York City.

But the biggest effort to cross the Bass Strait came from no less than Tribeca’s global natural resources fund, whose team travelled down from Kalgoorlie in a merched-up bus steered by fundie Ben Cleary, who zipped round the streets of Hobart like a rally driver.

BetaShares founder Alex Vynokur guided Ukrainian ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko through the crowd, while professor Fay Johnston repped the Menzies Institute.

With Vladimir Putin’s least favourite fundie Bill Browder set to headline the conference with a live-cross on Friday morning, the evening was charged with rumours of special guest speakers. After the whiskey, watermelon and pineapple cocktails, the group was none the wiser.

Gerry Cardinale, left, and Gary Weiss attend Sohn Hearts and Minds at MONA. Amy Brown

Cooper Investors clients were absent from the festivities, lured to a breakaway event.

Fresh from the NSW Supreme Court’s ruling on Perpetual and Pendal’s merger, Regal Funds Management chief executive Brendan O’Connor was weighing up his options, while Perpetual fund manager Anthony Aboud kept his stock pick for Friday’s conference close to his chest.

Perpetual’s Anthony Aboud, left, and Aleesha Aboud. Amy Brown

While the conference will officially end on Friday night, many attendees have taken the opportunity to bring family to Hobart, meaning restaurants and hotels are packed out.

The Australian Sohn event follows a dramatic moment at the corresponding event London this week.

Barrenjoey’s Justin Dwyer, left, Guy Fowler and investor Ramez Naam. Amy Brown

Short seller Muddy Waters bet against a Uruguayan payments firm at the conference, with the stock plunging 50.7 per cent on the day.

But dodgy corporates can breathe easy: the Hearts & Minds Investment fund, which has fallen more than 41 per cent in the last 12 months and introduced two new managers Tribeca and Munro Partners this week, is skewed to longs.

However, the talk at breakfast made it clear that one or two shorts might get pitched.

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This article was originally posted by the AFR here.

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