by Liam Walsh

Investment veteran Geoff Wilson hopes to keep negotiating for oversight of a sharemarket-listed fund after under-fire investment manager Blue Sky abruptly cancelled talks.“[The] cessation of negotiations was totally unexpected,” Mr Wilson, chairman of Wilson Asset Management, told The Australian Financial Review.

“We’re disappointed. We think there’s a great opportunity to grow alternative investments in Australia.”

The spat is over control of the ASX-listed Blue Sky Alternatives Access Fund, which has had stakes in unlisted funds such as real estate or an online shoe seller.

The sharemarket-listed fund – and those unlisted funds – are currently administered by Blue Sky Alternative Investments, the embattled Brisbane-based investment manager.

Blue Sky had last year announced plans to cease running the sharemarket-listed fund, citing cost concerns as part of the reason.

Wilson Asset Management triumphed in a subsequent battle to win support from the fund to take over the rights.

But on Friday, Blue Sky announced it was “ceasing negotiations” about transferring the rights to manage the sharemarket-listed fund.

That triggered the fund to then tell investors that a sticking point was Blue Sky having concerns about “control of the underlying closed-end funds that it manages”.

But the fund said its own directors believed the Wilson Asset Management proposal for the transition was “favourable” to investors in both the shareholder-listed and underlying funds managed by Blue Sky.

The fund also related that Wilson Asset Management would keep trying to cut a deal and probe the investment manager for “clarity in relation to [Blue Sky’s] debt restructuring outcome”.

This would include assessing the impact on Blue Sky’s “ability to continue to effectively manage the existing underlying individual investments within the [sharemarket-listed fund’s] portfolio”.

Blue Sky told investors that any decision about new management “would be based on what is in the best interests of the unitholders in those Blue Sky funds” in which the sharemarket-listed fund is invested.

In talks with Wilson, Blue Sky had “not been able to secure adequate guarantees to provide protections for existing unitholders in its closed-end funds”.

The sharemarket listed fund on Friday closed down 2.5¢ at 72.5¢, while Blue Sky was flat at 19.5¢.

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