Christchurch tech company gains major new shareholder and capital

Christchurch-based technology company Syft Technologies has gained a major new shareholder and capital injection.

Syft, which makes hi-tech chemical sniffer machines, has struck a deal to sell a near 20 per cent stake to specialist US private equity company Ampersand for $22.8 million.

Alex Fala. Photo: Supplied
Alex Fala. Photo: Supplied
Syft chief executive Alex Fala said the investment would give it resources for product and market development and to hire staff, and would also allow it to tap Ampersand's expertise and connections in the sector.

He said there was no shortage of domestic and foreign investment available for local tech companies.

"We often hear capital is a constraint for companies, that there's not enough capital around for companies, I don't see that at all, there's lots of local capital, Australian investors are coming into New Zealand, and in the case of Ampersand, there's US investors looking for great companies.

"As long as [we] can get out there in the market, more than we have over the past two years, then the capital will come."

Fala said the bigger issue was in finding and training local talent, and attracting and retaining top people from overseas.

"At the start of the pandemic, we were the hot destination for talent, and we missed that opportunity and now we need to be super active in attractive and retaining talent just to compete around the world."

He said changes around the margins would help make the country more attractive such as the tax rules around employee stock options - treating them the same as investors are taxed.

"The big one for us and many others is that housing's too expensive ... fix that and we'll fix many other issues including our ability to attract great talent."

Fala said the company was looking to develop its hi-tech machines used in the semi-conductor industry, and it also wanted to push further into the life sciences sector.

Syft major shareholders include the ACC with a 20 per cent stake, and the Ngāi Tahu-linked Whale Watch Holdings with 12 per cent.

The company is forecasting full-year revenue to increase 18 per cent to $34m.

Syft trades on the Unlisted share market, but Fala said there was no interest at present to contemplate an NZX listing.

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter