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Graham Birch quits BlackRock

Gold specialist Graham Birch has decided to quit BlackRock after taking a sabbatical from the firm.

BlackRock has confirmed that Evy Hambro is to continue the management of the BlackRock gold and general fund.

Birch went on sabbatical at the end of March 2009 having managed the fund since 1999. The £2.1bn fund has returned 62 per cent in the past three years.

In addition to running both gold and general and world mining funds, Birch was also head of BlackRock’s natural resources team. Hambro will now head up the gold and mining side of the team with Robin Batchelor in charge of energy and new energy.

Hambro began his investment career at Mercury Asset Management in 1994 and was one of the members of the team to be acquired by Merrill Lynch in 1997.

BlackRock head of UK retail Tony Stenning says: “Evy will continue to manage the funds and we remain bullish on the prospects for gold with the price at $1140 an ounce and the fact the commodity remains all the more difficult to find reflects that outlook.

“The appointment reflects the strength of our succession planning within the team given that Evy has been with us for some time and his experience in the market is immense. That strength was reflected when Julian Baring left us in 1998 only to be replaced by Graham Birch.”

Morningstar says it has made no changes to the ‘elite’ ratings of Birch’s five funds following the announcement.

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