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Henderson financial team exits; Peak gives up UK Alpha

Henderson financial team exits; Peak gives up UK Alpha

Henderson fund manager Stephen Peak is to relinquish control of the UK Alpha fund to concentrate on his new role as head of global equities at the firm.

Citywire AAA-rated Neil Hermon, manager of the UK Smaller Companies fund and Smaller Companies investment trust, will take over Peak's £439 million UK Alpha fund from 1 February. He will be supported by James Ross, assistant fund manager on the Henderson European Absolute Return hedge fund.

Peak (pictured) has stepped back from the fund in order to concentrate on Henderson's growing US mutual funds business, where he runs the $2.5 billion International Opportunities fund, and to head the newly created global equity investment unit.

Hermon's UK Smaller Companies fund has posted a 72.7% return over the past year, compared to a 51.7% rise by the Numis Smaller Companies Extended (ex-Investment Trust) index.

The move forms part of a broader restructure of Henderson's equity team, which will see the team divided into four main divisions: European equities under John Bennett, multi-asset under Bill McQuaker, absolute return headed by David Elms, alongside Stephen Peak's new dedicated global equity investment unit. Hermon will head the UK equities division at Henderson alongside UK Absolute Return manager Ben Wallace, forming a sub-division of European equities under the new structure.

Global financials team departs

Linked to the restructure, the global financials team, led by Simon Peters, has departed the firm, with control of the £65 million Global Financials fund moving to Matthew Beesley's team, which currently runs global equities at the firm. The company has also opted to close its global financials hedge fund, as the fund was no longer efficient to run due to its small size.

Recognising the fact that Henderson no longer has a house view and individual teams have autonomy, the firm has decided to remove the chief investment officer role, which was formerly held by David Jacob. He remains at the company and takes on a new role as vice chairman of Henderson Global Investors, with involvement in specific growth projects.

Head of equities Graham Kitchen said the firm had carried out the changes to provide greater clarity for clients - particularly in the wake of the Gartmore and New Star acquisitions, which involved a number of different sub-teams moving over to Henderson.

'From a client perspective the purpose of the restructure was to make our department more straightforward for our clients to understand,' Kitchen said.

Focus on global equities and absolute return

The firm has also opted to bring together the Asia and emerging markets teams, sitting within its newly formed global equities division. Graham Kitchen will lead the newly merged team in the interim until a new head is appointed. Chris Palmer, Latin America manager, currently leads the emerging markets team, while John Crawford heads Asia.

Kitchen added that the overhaul of the equities team seeks to recognise its core strengths and the key areas it expects to grow looking ahead, not least global equity - where it hopes its Global Equity Income fund, run by Citywire A-rated Ben Lofthouse, can continue to gain traction. The global equity team also incorporates Stuart O'Gorman and Ian Warmerdam's global technology sub-division, global property securities under Patrick Sumner, global equity income headed by Alex Crooke, global equity under Beesley, alongside Japan.

The equities head also highlights absolute return, under Elms, as an area it hopes to expand looking ahead, alongside multi-asset, an area which has seen two new hires in the form of Paul O'Connor from Mercer and James de Bunsen from Armstrong Investment Managers.

'We have retained all key staff and our investment performance in equities and fixed income remains very strong. The new structure simplifies things and makes it clearer for clients to understand,' he added.

Adam McConkey's Volantis team, which specialises in UK small caps, will also remain a sub-division under the new structure.

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