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This week in Investment

Fresh from rebuffing rumours that they are interested in acquiring Credit Suisse’s multi-manager business, AXA Framlington has unveiled a major piece of restructuring and rebranding for its own multi-manager operation.

The Framlington fund manager Caspar Rock will become head of multi-manager and will be joined by portfolio managers Keith Speck and Francois Richebeouf who move across from Axa to Axa Framlington to complete the new team.

The changes are part of the shake up that sees Axa Investment Management move across to Axa Framlington under the leadership of Nick Hodgson who moves from head of UK retail at the group to take the catchy title of director, close-ended funds and multi-manager range at Axa Framlington.

Some IFAs regard Rock as an unknown quantity in fund of funds management, and a brave appointment to head up the rebranded 700m multi-manager business as he has no direct multi-manager experience.

The assertion is heightened by the fact that Axa Framlington has also announced its intentions to make the multi-manager business more active and aggressive in its investment style to bring it in line with the majority of its multi manager peers.

Cynics may point out that it is in serious need of a more active approach as its performance over the last few years has not been particularly dynamic.

Axa Framlington are quick to point out that Rock, who has been working most recently as a fund manager on the Framlington International health portfolio, has been on the Framlington side of the business for ten years and has a decent knowledge of global investment but this alone doesn’t make him a decent fund of fund manager.

To be fair, Rock has built up a decent reputation in the niche health funds area and will be keen to get on with the new job in hand.

The fact that he and his team will have access to Axa’s much vaunted quants team in Paris may make some give him the benefit of the doubt as the team’s more aggressive strategy starts to unfold.

Hodgson says the group will be looking to grow the multi-manager business as well as the rest of its assets under management, and that under the wings of the Axa Framlington brand will be able to really push the message to intermediaries.

He also says that the growth of the multi-manager business will be primarily organic and not through acquisitions, although he says that ‘opportunistic’ purchases of smaller rivals can not be ruled out.

It will be interesting to watch the new team at work. Time will tell whether they achieve decent inflows through a decent performance or whether Axa Framlington end up getting the cheque book out to expand it.

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