LONDON (Reuters) - Activist hedge fund Centaurus Capital on Friday unveiled a new advisory board that includes a former Spanish prime minister and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke to help broaden its understanding of global issues.
Centaurus, which manages more than $4.5 billion (2.3 billion pounds) in assets and has recently put pressure on European firms such as Atos Origin (ATOS.PA) and Stork VMFN.AS, said the new board would advise it on macroeconomic issues, although it said it will not alter its investment style or start taking macro bets.
The four appointments are Jose Maria Aznar, who was Spanish prime minister from 1996 to 2004, Clarke, chancellor from 1993 to 1997, economist Thierry de Montbrial, the founder and president of the French Institute of International Relations, and Haruko Fukuda, former chief executive of the World Gold Council.
“The advisory board will add a much better understanding of large, macro issues ... like global warming, what’s happening in the utilities world in Europe and Asia, and banking consolidation in Europe,” Centaurus Chairman and Chief Investment Officer Bernard Oppetit told Reuters.
“We do a bottom-up approach. In banks in Europe we look at balance sheets, but sometimes you need an understanding of what’s happening in the overall banking scene in Europe.”
He said that Centaurus, which focuses on Europe, may look at new regions such as Asia and may launch a new hedge fund there.
“Asia will be a natural extension for us,” he said.
He also said one or two members may be added to the board in the future.
Centaurus, which was founded in 2000 by Oppetit and Randy Freeman, runs portfolios including the Centaurus Alpha fund, a European multi-strategy event-driven fund, and Centaurus Kappa, a European credit fund.
The $2 trillion hedge fund industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, and activist funds, which often press firms hard for corporate change, have particularly grown in influence.