Excited to share The Post’s article featuring Saltire’s Peter Gardiner! The piece, shares Peter’s journey from Aberdeen to Sydney. Article by Tina Brown.
“I grew up in a lower working-class council housing estate in Aberdeen. My Father was the sole income provider as a bus driver for the local council, so we were not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.” Peter said as we sat in his office in Leichhardt, Sydney.
Now a successful businessman, serial entrepreneur and well-known across Sydney for his corporate network and advisory skills across the business market, Peter shares and reflects on his career journey from Scotland to Australia.
Peter’s first business venture dates back to 1993 in Aberdeen after the Bank of Scotland provided him with initial seed capital to form a partnership to establish Kudos Independent Financial Services (Kudos).
The business prospered, attracting further capital from private equity investor 3i to further grow the business. Following this investment, Peter relocated to Glasgow whilst his business partner moved to London enabling Kudos continue its growth trajectory and broaden its client base, resulting in a mandate from Scottish & Southern Energy PLC (SSE).
Peter and his business partner went on to establish a new business venture with SSE, the shares in which were later sold, allowed Peter to travel, live abroad and experience the world beyond Scotland.
After arriving in Australia in 2003, Peter explored a long held passion for Scuba diving and subsequently acquired an equity stake in Pro Dive International, becoming Business Development Director for the organisation. Actively involved in promoting the brand Internationally, Peter established a strategic alliance with the Australian Conservation Foundation promoting the protection of Grey Nurse Sharks receiving international recognition from well-known marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle.
Coinciding with the birth of Peter’s daughter Lucy, an opportunity arose to re-enter the corporate world a few years later in 2006. Peter was hired as Business Development Director at Ernst & Young based in Sydney and later joined ANZ, holding various leadership roles over a ten-year period. During that period, Peter met Rahavan Yoganathan (Yogi) then Senior Manager at Ernst and Young. Yogi had extensive experience advising on merger and acquisition and capital markets transactions. The two became close friends and worked on numerous transactions together. The pair found that mid-sized companies in Australia were poorly serviced, and in some cases ignored completely.
They shared the view that an opportunity existed to provide a higher quality service offering to this market segment, particularly in the healthcare sector in which they held deep expertise.
After leaving their respective corporate roles, it was decided they would establish Saltire Capital Partners (Saltire) in May 2020. Peter and Yogi put their cheque books together to fund the new boutique advisory firm and sought another business partner, Douglas Farrell. Douglas brought a wealth of experience in principal investment, investment banking and insolvency experience, formerly heading mergers and acquisitions and real estate investment banking for Citigroup, having completed over US$100bn in merger and acquisition transactions globally.
Launching the business proved difficult with the onset of the pandemic that year, and the three businessmen were forced to adapt to a challenging new environment. Needing to secure new clients through Zoom and Microsoft Teams sessions, in some cases transactions were mandated without being able to hold any face-to-face meetings. Despite WiFi speed constraints and Peter’s strong Scottish accent, Saltire managed to win several new clients and delivered a profitable first year in operation.
Since then, Saltire has flourished, with the Company advising on nearly $500m in transactions including an advisory role for NRMA to negotiate a ferry transport contract for the Manly-Circular Quay route announced on 31 December 2022 by the NSW Government (full story page 7). Saltire’s success landed it on the AFR Fast 100 list in 2022 and is expected to grow strongly again in 2023.
With a strong desire to give back to the community, a strategic alliance was formed with Professor Ian Frazer, a Scottish-born Australian immunologist to help raise funds for the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. Saltire also became a sponsor of the Australian World Orchestra, supporting an annual education program comprising talented children from throughout the Country who perform at the Opera House each year and learn from Australia’s leading musicians.
Peter has attributed much of his success to taking up boxing back in Aberdeen during a difficult period in his younger life. Boxing is well known for instilling discipline, physical fitness and building confidence, it’s clear determination and true grit have played a big part in Peter’s success.
Peter agrees and concludes our interview with the words “The harder you work in training, the luckier you become in life.”