A tribute to our friend and colleague, Bill Kermode

Media Release

27 May 2014

A tribute to our friend and colleague, Bill Kermode.


In 1994 three young friends in their early 30s, Ross George, Mark Hutton and Bill Kermode, decided to introduce private equity into New Zealand’s capital markets.  Little did they know the success they would create, the legacy they would establish and the business friendships they would form. 


Sadly, but excitedly, the day has come when one of those three young lads has made the very significant decision to leave the firm he started, and to commence a new project close to his heart.


At the end of June 2014, after 20 years with Direct Capital, our friend Billy will arise from his worn and torn chair, take a final sip of his green tea, switch off his PC Direct computer, pocket his paper diary, steal a glance at the board room – the scene of so many yoga classes, and depart from the 6th floor of 2 Kitchener St, Auckland for the final time. [Ed – seriously, is he not coming to yoga next Monday?].


Billy leaves us to join NEXT Foundation, a philanthropic organisation endowed by Neal and Annette Plowman, and chaired by Bill’s good friend, Chris Liddell.  Bill will lead investment into education and environmental programs and his role will be one of the most interesting in New Zealand over the next decade offering tremendous potential for effecting social outcomes.  We are very proud of his move. 

For 20 years Billy has been our philosopher, our scholar, our humorist, our wordsmith, our sports analyst, and our advisor on emotional intelligence (a skill the rest of us have been accused of as sadly lacking).  He has bought a perspective to our investment decisions that lies at the heart of Direct Capital’s success. 


Bill led a number of our investments over the years including PC Direct, Communicado, EFTPOS, EziBuy, New Zealand Pharmaceuticals, and more recently Fishpond and PF Olsen.  He is hugely respected in the industry for his integrity, his unflappable nature, his insightful intelligence, and his deep loyalty.  Billy is liked by all.       


We are proud of Bill’s 20 year track record with Direct Capital and we have enjoyed a lot of success together investing in heartland New Zealand companies.  When we think about our corporate alumni there are a lot of happy, wealthy people who have benefited alongside our investors from Billy’s investment initiatives.  It is great that Bill is turning his hand from creating material wealth at Direct Capital for investors and company owners, into applying those same skills to create social wealth in education and the environment.  Having achieved large and measurable financial returns, he moves onto achieving large and measurable social returns.  This is a natural progression for Billy.


Bill leaves with the knowledge that the Direct Capital team he helped build will continue as New Zealand’s largest and most successful private equity firm.  A team of 17 from which few have left over our 20 years, a tribute to the culture and success that Bill has so greatly contributed to.  The race to secure his car park will be intense.


We will miss you Billy but we know our friendship will continue.


From the team at Direct Capital