March 6, 2017 / 11:46 AM / 9 months ago

Activist fund RBR asked GAM chairman to consider new CEO-source

ZURICH, March 6 (Reuters) - Activist hedge fund investor RBR suggested outgoing GAM Holding Chairman Johannes de Gier consider bringing in a new chief executive at the Swiss asset manager, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters.

The meeting was also attended by Hugh Scott-Barrett, whom GAM last week nominated to replace de Gier, rejecting RBR’s recommendation for chairman.

A GAM spokeswoman said the company does not comment on the content of private meetings with shareholders.

An external communications adviser for RBR did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amid rocky financial markets GAM posted net outflows of 10.7 billion Swiss francs ($10.6 billion) in 2016, when its share price fell almost 30 percent. Performance fees also plummeted to 3 million francs from 82.8 million.

Since joining Zurich-based GAM in September 2014, Chief Executive Alexander Friedman has overhauled part of the company’s senior management team, closed or merged almost 70 funds, and outsourced its middle and back offices.

In 2016, GAM also cut fixed staff costs and general expenses by around 16 million francs and plans a further reduction of 30 million francs francs through 2019.

However, RBR has suggested the company could be doing more to cut costs and suggested management of its portfolio managers could be improved, the person said.

GAM disclosed last week that RBR had taken a 2.1 percent stake in the company but RBR has bought additional shares and now holds roughly double that, the person said.

According a filing on Monday on the Swiss stock exchange website, RBR founder and Chief Investment Officer Rudolf Bohli holds a 3.28 percent stake in GAM through two RBR funds.

Friedman said last week the company’s management had met with RBR but declined to give any details on what was said at the meeting.

($1 = 1.0080 Swiss francs)

Editing by Michael Shields

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