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This week in Investment

HSBC’s announcement that it is to shift its core UK equity business away from Halbis Partners to its multimanager team has raised a few eyebrows in the investment community.

The move will see over 2bn of UK equity assets held in the UK growth and income, income, and monthly income funds switch to multimanager control pending the appointment of external managers by year end.

Some IFAs have queried the move, particularly as Bob Morris’ performance on the flagship 1bn UK growth and income fund has at least matched the performance of his predecessor Tim Russell on the fund before his departure to Cazenove.

Some have branded the move the “death knell” for HSBC’s core UK equity business and slated the group for not being able to find decent active managers to run its key UK business.

Others believe the move is a sensible one considering that current managers Halbis are essentially experts in running high alpha products, and point to HSBC’s relative success in the US where it appointed Davis Advisors to run its American growth fund in April 2005.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the strategy, judgement on its success will probably be reserved until the identity of the external managers is revealed.

It seems to have been a long time coming, but finally Fidelity’s UK special sits fund has shut down and re-emerged as evenly split UK and global special sits funds.

While Anthony Bolton will oversee Jorma Korhonen’s global fund stock picks until the end of the year, the Finn is already looking to stamp his authority on the new fund.

Korhonen has ruled in technology stocks, and ruled out buying companies he expects to be subject of takeover activity. The technology sector was shunned by Bolton and the latter are a major part of his investment strategy.

Time will tell whether Korhonen’s tactics prove as successful as Bolton’s in the long term, but even if it proves nothing else, it proves that Korhonen is not afraid to be his own man.

Certainly the strangest rumour of the week concerns speculation that Jupiter owner Commerzbank has been approached by Gartmore majoriity shareholder Hellman and Friedman about a potentail merger of the two giants.

While most observers are highly sceptical of such a merger ever taking place and believe it more likely that the Frankfurtbased bank will look to float Jupiter before the end of the year, it does throw up at least one awkward situation.

Philip Ehrmann is understood to have left Gartmore under acrimonious circumstances when he lost out to Chris Palmer in the post-MBO merger of the Latin American and Asian emerging market desks.

Having just launched a new Japan fund for his new employer Jupiter, the last thing Ehrmann would probably want would be to be reunited with his former colleagues.

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