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This week in Investment

Increased scrutiny on performance has been a common thread running through the investment world over the last few months but that will be of little consequence to five fund managers at Old Mutual Asset Managers (OMAM).

The group announced a whole raft of changes on Tuesday which will see the quants team take over a greater slice of the investment action.

Of those to lose their jobs, the two who will probably feel most aggrieved are Anne Hall and Terry Ewing, erstwhile fund managers of the 24m US select equity fund. It will be of little consolation that the group has praised their recent efforts.

Despite recently outperformance in a fiercely competitive sector, OMAM has decided it is uneconomical to run two investment processes and so the reigns of the fund will be handed to the quants team who already manage the 116m North American fund.

UK select equity and UK select large cap manager Richard Moore will also be feeling the irresistible pull of the quants team as they take on his two funds, although the much vaunted pairing of Ashton Bradbury and Luke Kerr will continue to manage the small and mid cap components of the fund.

Out too go international bond and convertible fund manager Sofia Skalistiri and Asian select fund manager Simon Weston to be replaced by Andrew Tunks and Suresh Sadasivan respectively.

In their cases, OMAM says this is definitely a poor performance issue.

One of the best known names in UK investment has returned to the fold this week. Former Invesco Perpetual head of distribution Mike Webb has resurfaced after two years absence as a director at Hermes Pension Management.

Webb says he considered setting up his own boutique while he was away and had the capital in place, but changed his mind.

He was well liked in retail investment circles but has now stepped over to the institutional side of the fence to look after the interests of some illustrious blue chip clients, although he does not rule out the launch of further retail products at the group in the future.

New Star UK growth fund manager Stephen Whittaker has remained his bullish optimistic self this week following the crash of online gaming stocks that saw their weighting in his 396m fund plummet from 5.2 to 2.9 per cent overnight.

Whittaker believes the online gambling sector outside the US is set for huge growth and says the sector is set to benefit from a wave of consolidation.

He sold his PartyGaming stock but is holding onto Sportingbet, 888 Holdings and Empire Holdings and says he may even consider buying back PartyGaming if its price drops any further.

While many other fund managers with big stakes in the sector have remained silent on the issue it is refreshing to see a fund manager who really does put his money where his mouth is.


Another throw of the dice

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This week by freelance writer Sonia Speedy

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