Australian Private Equity


Disciplined investment strategy

  • Focus on lower middle-market Australian resident companies (enterprise values of A$10–100 million) that are based in the regions of Victoria and South Australia.
  • Focus on niche industries believed to be fragmented and overlooked by private equity and other institutional investors.
  • A conservative approach to valuation and associated debt leverage reflecting a disciplined due diligence process that is tailored to the unique circumstances of middle-market companies.
  • The team brings significant experience in operational and management improvements post investment.
Investment Team

Jeremy E. Steele
Vice President & Senior Managing Director

Jeremy Steele

Mr. Steele joined HMC in 2008 to establish the Australian Private Equity Strategy. Before joining the firm, Mr. Steele was Head of ANZ Private Equity (“ANZPE”), a A$500 million middle-market private equity fund. He led a team of 30 investment professionals located in 6 offices across Australia and New Zealand. At the time of his departure to join HFAA, the ANZ portfolio consisted of almost 50 investments. Prior to joining ANZ, Mr. Steele worked in the Melbourne office of National Australia Bank establishing a middle-market leverage finance business. This followed his eight years experience in Europe working in a variety of investment banking roles. Mr. Steele holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia and was awarded a Future Leader Award at the 2007 Australia Future Summit. Mr. Steele is HMC’s representative director on the board of Emeis Holdings (owner of Aesop), and also sits on the boards of Sumo Visual Group, Techdrill Civil & Mining Services ,FastTrack and Cardioscan.

Robert L. Read
Managing Director


Robert Read joined HMC in 2013. Before joining the firm, Mr. Read was previously Director of Commercial Strategy & Operations at GlaxoSmithKline (Australia), where he was accountable for driving business improvement through strategic development, M&A digital marketing, sales force training and effectiveness, marketing excellence, business intelligence, project management office and corporate strategy.

Prior to this, Robert was a Director at ANZ Private Equity (“ANZPE”), a A$500 million middle-market private equity fund. Robert worked directly with Jeremy Steele at ANZPE and the two of them shared a number of successful investments. Robert was based in Sydney during his time with ANZPE, which included a team of 30 investment professionals located in 6 offices across Australia and New Zealand.  Robert led or managed a number of acquisitions and exits (including 3 via IPO) across a range of industries including recruitment, manufacturing, security, finance, mining services and aged care.

Prior to joining ANZPE, Robert worked in Venture Capital at St George Bank. This followed his experience in Business Consulting to Small & Medium Enterprises in Melbourne across a variety of industries.

Robert holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University and has graduated from the AICD.


Robert P.A. Whitaker
Investment Director

Rob Whitaker

Mr. Whitaker joined HMC in 2009. Before joining the firm, Mr. Whitaker was previously an Associate Director at Deloitte Corporate Finance where he spent three and a half years working on financial due diligence assignments in a wide variety of industries. Prior to that, Mr. Whitaker spent nearly four years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch with secondments to Equity Research and Funds Management. He has an MBA from Monash Mt.Eliza Business School and following the completion of his undergraduate degree, he ran the family retail business for three years until its successful sale in 1998. Mr. Whitaker is an alternate director for Mr. Steele on the board of Techdrill Civil & Mining Services and sits on the board of Cardioscan.

Joshua J. Casey

Joshua Casey

Mr. Casey joined HMC in 2012. Prior to joining Harbert, Joshua worked in the advisory division at Gresham Investment House, working on a range of merger and acquisition and strategic assignments on behalf of listed and private clients. Earlier, Joshua worked in the mergers and acquisitions and restructuring services areas of PricewaterhouseCoopers. In these roles he advised both corporate and private equity clients on a range of assignments and transactions across a broad range of industry sectors.

He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne and is currently undertaking a Masters of Applied Finance at Macquarie University.

Investment Criteria

Focused on:

  • Lower, mid market, quality and privately held companies
  • Victoria and South Australia (over 26,000 companies in this market)
  • Enterprise value of A$10 million to A$50 million
  • EBITDA of between A$2 million and A$10 million
  • Relatively strong positive cash flows

Harbert Australian Private Equity Fund I

Owner of Aesop – Body, Skin and Hair Care Beauty Products

Since 1987, when the company launched in Melbourne, Aesop has not wavered from its intention to create a range of superlative products for skin, hair and body. Committed to including the highest-quality plant-based ingredients, Aesop also makes judicious use of non-botanical elements such as anti-oxidants. The products are available in leading department stores, own-branded stores and wholesalers around the world.

Merchandising Signage Solutions Specialist

In December 2010 HAPE I acquired a majority stake in a leading player in the Merchandising Signage Solutions market, the Sumo Visual Group (“Sumo” or the “business”). Through the use of state‐of‐the‐art technology Sumo can design and produce large format printed graphics on any appropriate substrate. The business can also build custom display units or large illuminated external signs. Sumo has more recently invested in digital signage (i.e. LED / LCD delivery) to provide a solution to those looking for heavily customised, real time, content delivery.

Mining and Infrastructure Services Group

In January 2012, HAPE I acquired a significant minority stake in Techdrill Civil & Mining Services (“TCMS”), a diversified mining and infrastructure services group formed from the merger of a mining drilling business and an infrastructure drilling business. Techdrill Mining is an established drilling contractor based in Central Western New South Wales, and provides mobile Greenfield and Brownfield drilling services to a large number of resource exploration companies in eastern Australia. Techdrill Civil is a well known Brisbane‐based drilling services contractor which provides trenchless drilling services and horizontal directional drilling (“HDD”) to infrastructure companies in the electricity, water, sewerage and telecommunications sectors.

Integrated Software Solutions

In May 2012, HAPE I acquired a majority stake in FastTrack, a leading provider of integrated software solutions to the Australian and Nordic labor hire industry. FastTrack’s software is a fully integrated end to end solutions from applicant tracking right through to payroll and billing. The software is functional worldwide, however FastTrack’s focus to date has primarily been on the Australian and Nordic regions given their industrial relations acts are two of the most complex in the world. Worldwide, the labor industry is known to be highly competitive and low margin; as such, FastTrack’s software solution is a valuable tool in helping labor hire companies lower opex and preserve profitability whilst at the same time streamlining their processes.