By Sinead Cruise
LONDON, March 15 Richard Buxton, head of UK
equities at Schroders and one of Britain's
highest-profile fund managers, is leaving to join smaller rival
Old Mutual Global Investors, both firms confirmed on
Errol Francis who co-managed the Schroder UK Equity Fund and
has worked with Buxton for 16 years, will also leave for Old
Mutual Global Investors.
The moves are a blow for Schroders as Buxton was a
high-profile name with an enthusiastic following of investors
after more than a decade at the company. However, they mark a
coup for Old Mutual, which is moving to boost its fund
Old Mutual, in a statement, said Buxton would become its new
head of UK equities. Shroders announced on Thursday that he
would leave the company on June 14.
Buxton managed the successful 3.5 billion-pound ($5.3
billion) Schroders UK Alpha Plus fund, whose investors are
mostly private investors who are seen as more likely than
institutions to follow a fund manager to a different firm.
Still, Buxton's arrangement to stay at the helm of the fund
for three months before taking up his new role appeared to have
already calmed some jitters.
"Investors don't need to rush to sell this fund, since
Richard is staying on until June. When we know who is taking
over the fund we will be able to inform investors," said Mark
Dampier, head of investment research at Hargreaves Lansdown
Speaking to Reuters on Friday, Schroders' Global Head of
Equities Peter Harrison emphasised that Buxton and Francis were
part of a team of experienced portfolio managers, 16 of whom
remain at the firm.
He acknowledged that replacing such a high profile manager
as Buxton quickly was a challenge but said Schroders, one of
Britain's best known fund managers, is in a strong position to
find top talent from inside or outside the firm.
"We have the firepower to do whatever we want given the
brand we have got," he told Reuters.
"I want to take a good look at the team and we have a full
three months to make that decision. Generally the right decision
is not one you make in the heat of the moment."
Buxton will report to Julian Ide, Chief Executive of Old
Mutual Global Investors. Ashton Bradbury, who has run the UK
equities teams for three years, will report to Buxton.
"Old Mutual are trying to build their presence in the UK and
the signing of this star manager is a significant statement of
intent," Hargreaves Lansdown's Dampier said.
Buxton, who joined Schroders in 2001 to manage specialist UK
equity portfolios, has been outspoken on several high-profile
takeovers and issues such as the compensation of Xstrata
executives as part of the merger with Glencore.
He began his investment career in 1985 at Brown Shipley
Asset Management as a fixed-income and equity investment
manager. He was UK equity manager at Baring Asset Management
from 1990 after spending a year at GRE Asset Management.