Bethunes Investments Limited (“Bethunes” or “BIL”) is an unlisted company with approximately 184 shareholders as at 30 October 2019. 

The company name was selected as it was associated with Mowbray Collectables Limited (the former NZX listed parent company). In 1999, John Mowbray formed Bethunes Rare Books Limited to acquire the rare book auction business of JH Bethune Limited which held book auction sales, with relatively brief interruptions, since 1877, and before that by the firm Bethune & Hunter, from 1852. Bethune and Hunter were Merchants, Station Agents, and Lloyd’s Agents. It was one of the oldest businesses in Wellington (located on Bond Street - formerly Old Customhouse Street - demolished in August 1958), having been established in February 1840 by Kenneth Bethune (1825 - 1855) and George Hunter (1788 - 1843) soon after their arrival in Wellington from Scotland.


(Source: Wellington City Libraries - MacDonald Wilson Collection - 50002-2-31)

Mowbray Collectables Limited was first listed on the NZAX in 2000 and subsequently moved to the NZX Main Board. Due to the small size of the company and the difficulty presented to auditors in valuing its large stamp inventory on an annual basis the company was progressively dismantled from 2014 through 2015 as its various stamp trading and auction businesses were divested. The culminating transaction was the agreement to acquire the transport and logistics business and assets of TIL Logisitcs Group Limited  (TIL) approximately for $200mln in December 2017. This reverse listing transaction (the largest in the NZX’s history) saw shareholders receive shares in NZX-listed TIL and unlisted Bethunes.  In August 2018, Bethunes announced it had acquired a 33% interest in SwimTastic Limited ( a learn-to-swim business founded by former Olympic Swimming Coach - Mark Bone. After completing the development of a new $15mln pool facility located at 69a Merton Road, St Johns, Auckland in April 2019, Bethunes subsequently increased its investment to 45% in SwimTastic in August 2019.

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While Bethunes has today traded books and stamps for kickboards and googles, the entrepreneurial spirit that could be first found in Wellington in the 1840’s lives on.  Bethunes shares a vision with the other shareholders of SwimTastic (including the founder - Mark Bone) to further expand the SwimTastic brand in the years ahead if such opportunities present themselves.

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