March 8, 2016 / 9:23 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Jain quits Vontobel to go it alone, shares plunge

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ZURICH, March 7 (Reuters) - Bank Vontobel will lose star fund manager Rajiv Jain in May after his resignation signalled the departure of a man credited with driving much of the Swiss private bank’s growth over the past two decades.

Shares in the bank fell nearly 11 percent in the first few minutes of trading on Tuesday before paring loses to an 8.2 percent decline by 0916 GMT.

“It will never be possible to clearly determine just how much Vontobel’s asset-management performance came from the team and how much came from Jain himself,” said Zuercher Kantonalbank analyst Michael Kunz, who cut his rating on the stock to underweight from market weight.

“But put simply, Rajiv Jain was the face of Vontobel asset management in New York.”

Matthew Benkendorf, Jain’s deputy at Vontobel’s New York-based Quality Growth investment boutique, will replace his former boss, the Zurich-based bank said on Monday.

In 2014, when Vontobel shares fell on speculation that Jain was about to leave, the fund manager said: “Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Jain, who has been with Vontobel for 22 years, is leaving to start his own venture, the bank said.

Jain was a significant force behind much of the growth in the Swiss bank’s asset-management business. His 70-strong team within the bank managed about $48 billion in assets, a third of Vontobel’s total.

Benkendorf takes over as lead portfolio manager of Vontobel’s flagship Global Equity, Europe, Australasia and Far East, and Emerging Market Equity investment strategies.

Donny Kranson becomes lead European portfolio manager while Brian Bandsma takes over from Jain as lead Far East portfolio manager. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Alexander Smith and David Goodman)

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