Joel Cann takes the reins at Blue Sky

Written on the 13 March 2019 by Business News Australia

Joel Cann takes the reins at Blue Sky

Embattled investment group Blue Sky (ASX: BLA) may be watching the clouds part as its new fixer Joel Cann steps into the role of CEO.

The appointment of Cann comes 11 months after Rob Shand resigned in the midst of Blue Sky's rough trot in 2018.

Most recently Cann was appointed as CEO of property company Aspen Group where he managed the rehabilitation of the company.

Chief executive chairman Andrew Day says Cann's experience rebuilding Aspen will be useful as Blue Sky dusts itself off.

"The board is excited to welcome Joel as CEO. We are confident that Joel has the right combination of experience in asset management and rebuilding businesses to lead the company through its next transition," says Day.

In addition to his latest appointment at Aspen Cann has held leadership roles at Aberdeen Asset Management and JP Morgan in London.

Cann says he will endeavour to restart the reputation of Blue Sky in Australia.

"I am looking forward to rebuilding market confidence in the company's ability to drive strong returns for its investors," says Cann.

"In the short term, the priorities are to continue to strengthen business processes while building solid momentum in the company's core business units."

Cann's appointment comes just after Blue Sky announced its underlying net loss after tax of $25.7 million during 1H19.

This loss was outside the lower end of what the company predicted just two weeks prior on 12 February which was in the range of a $28 million and $32 million loss.

Revenue also tanked for Blue Sky, from $38.3 million in 1H18 to $16.6 million in 1H19. Revenue and expenses were negatively impacted by impairments adjustments relating to the restructure of the business.

The company has struggled to truly turn its fortunes around after a damning report by US-based short seller Glaucus was released.

The investment firm's shares plummeted in 2018 after Glaucus said the business overstated its fee assets under management while charging expensive fees to investors.

When the Glaucus report was released Blue Sky shares were trading at around the $11.50 mark. Currently they are trading at just $0.66 per share.

The fallout from the Glaucus report led to two board purges and the resignations of managing director Robert Shand, followed by chairman John Kain, along with board members Elaine Stead and Nicholas Dignam.

An investment from global capital manager Oaktree proved to be somewhat assistive for Blue Sky, but could not bring the company's share price back to its former glory.

Oaktree is a global investment manager specialising in alternative investments just like Blue Sky. The company has USD$122 billion in assets under management and over 900 employees in 18 cities worldwide.

However, the asset manager revealed in February that it may not be able to meet the relevant repayment requirements agreed to as part of the Oaktree loan. As such Blue Sky says it is in discussions with Oaktree to negotiate a way forward.

Shares in Blue Sky are up 4.76 per cent to $0.66 per share at 4.10pm AEDT.

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