February: Mobius Returns as Managers Depart

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Mobius returns, River & Mercantile loses manager and new global income opportunities for UK investors

Emma Simon 1 March, 2018 | 9:14AM
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Some famous investment names returned to the headlines this month, while others look set to disappear for good.

Veteran emerging markets manager Mark Mobius announced a surprise return to the fund management sector, while Aegon launched a new multi-manager business. Elsewhere it has been a month of departures: River & Mercantile saw a fund manager depart following a professional conduct investigation, and Columbia Threadneedle’s long-standing property fund manager retired.

Meanwhile Standard Life Aberdeen announced it was selling its insurance arm to the Phoenix Group. Perhaps the most surprising ‘goodbye’ was to the Perpetual brand name, which has been part of the UK fund management industry since the 1980s.

Mobius Returns to Fund Management

Veteran fund manager Mark Mobius is poised to launch a new emerging markets funds, just weeks after he left Franklin Templeton.

The fund manager – who is 81 – told a conference in Mumbai, India, that he had no plans to retire and was applying for fund management licenses in London and Luxembourg.  

The new fund is expected to have a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – with the aim of driving up these standards in emerging and frontier markets. 

Mobius has one of the longest track records in emerging markets, having worked for more than 40 years at Franklin Templeton. He was one of the first fund managers specialising in this sector.

Days after he quit Franklin Templeton, Carlos Hardenberg, who succeeded Mobius as lead manager on the Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust (TEM) also quit the group to pursue “other opportunities”.

This has fueled speculation that he will be joining Mobius’s new outfit.

Invesco To Drop Perpetual Name

Its name may have been a byword for endurability, but Invesco is to phase out the Perpetual name from its funds as part of a global rebrand.

Invesco’s chief executive Marty Flanagan confirmed that investors would not see any material difference, as there would be no change to the underlying investment philosophy or processes.

This move to unify the brand will also see the asset manager drop the PowerShares and Trimark names. PowerShares is the current brand name for the company’s ETF business.

BlackRock Launches New High Income Fund

BlackRock has launched a new multi-asset fund with a focus on high income. The firm’s Dynamic High Income fund will be managed by Michael Fredericks, Justin Christofel and Alex Shingler of the multi-asset income investing team.

The fund management group said this global multi-asset approach was designed to maximise income opportunities for investors in a low-interest rate environment.

The fund will invest in a range of alternative assets such as real estate investment trusts, preferred stocks, floating rate loans, mortgage-backed securities and equity covered call options, which are complementary to traditional income investments.

Fredericks says: “With yield hard to come by in today’s investment landscape, it is important for investors to look beyond their usual sources of income.”

Standard Life Insurance Sold to Phoenix

Standard Life Aberdeen announced it is selling its life insurance arm to Phoenix Group for £3.2 billion and a 19.9% stake in Phoenix.

Phoenix specialises in managing closed insurance books, or so-called “zombie” funds.

Standard Life Assurance is one of the oldest savings and pensions companies in the UK. This transfer will see Phoenix almost double in size once the deal completes.

Standard Life merged with Aberdeen Asset Management last year. It said by selling its insurance arm it would allow the company to focus on its asset management and new financial advice arm.

JP Morgan Cuts Emerging Market Charges

JP Morgan is the latest fund manager to trim fees, this time by squeezing the annual charges on its £7.8 billion emerging market fund.

The annual management fee will be cut by 0.25% from March 1. However, investors won’t see the full benefit of this reduction, as the investment house is also introducing a new “operating expenses fee” of 0.15%. These changes mean that investors will see the overall cost of investing reduced by 0.1%. 

Fund Managers Departs Following Conduct Issues

Philip Rodrigs, manager of R&M UK Equity Smaller Companies and UK Dynamic Equity funds, has left the company following an investigation into a professional conduct issue.

Morningstar analysts have put the fund’s rating under review as a result. It previously had a Silver Rating.

Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services says: “This news is obviously a shock but the good news is that investors have not been negatively impacted – the conduct issue was unrelated to his portfolio manager responsibilities.”

The fund will now be run by co-manager Dan Hanbury, who ran the fund before Rodrigs joined the company.

Retirement for Leading Property Fund Manager

Columbia Threadneedle Investments has announced that Don Jordison, managing director of Threadneedle Property Investments, and co-manager of the Threadneedle UK Property Authorised Investment Fund, is to retire on 1 May 2018.

Following Don’s retirement, the fund will continue to be managed by his current co-manager, Gerry Frewin, who has 20 years’ industry experience and has worked on the fund for the past seven years.

New Baillie Gifford US Investment Trust

Baillie Gifford has announced plans to raise £250 million of a US Investment trust launch later this year. The trust will invest in both listed and unlisted companies and will be managed Gary Robinson, who also co-managed the company’s open-ended American fund, along with Tom Slator.

This new US Growth Trust will invest in around 90 companies, of which between 30 and 50 will be listed securities.

The fund is expected to have an ongoing annual management charge of 0.7% on the first £100 million of net assets. These charges will fall to 0.55% once net assets exceed this.

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Emma Simon

Emma Simon  is a financial journalist, specialising in investment and consumer issues, writing for Morningstar.co.uk

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