Boston-based fund group Liberty Square Asset Management has confirmed it will close following the withdrawal of a mandate to manage UK equities for St James’s Place.
‘After 15 successful years, the founding partners of Liberty Square Asset Management have decided to wind up operations and return money to investors,’ said partners Peg McGetrick, Tom Niedermeyer and Claire Walton.
Liberty Square co-managed the SJP UK & General Progressive fund, a £1.45 billion mandate, with John Wood of JO Hambro Capital Management. Sources told Wealth Manager this represented almost 90% of Liberty Square’s total assets under management.
Since Liberty Square was appointed to the fund on 1 September 2009, it has returned 52.7% compared with a peer group average of 62.7%.
As a predominantly value investor, Liberty Square acknowledged in its most recent half-yearly report for St James’s Place – in October 2012 – that its style had not been advantageous in current markets. ‘Due to the dominance of sentiment and momentum, value investing has been out of favour in current market conditions,’ wrote McGetrick.
‘Traditional value stocks today have derated to levels which represent multi-decade lows. These are excellent conditions for long-term value investors such as ourselves and we are excited about the opportunities.’
McGetrick noted in particular that she had been building stakes in UK housebuilders since last summer.
St James’s Place has retained Wood on the fund, and split Liberty Square’s former mandate between BlackRock head of equities Luke Chappell and Majedie chief investment officer James de Uphaugh. Both have more of a growth bias.
‘From our initial launch on 1 October 1998 with $20 million and two employees, we built a multi-billion dollar diversified asset management firm,’ Liberty Square’s founding partners added in the letter outlining their plans to wind up.
‘We’ve had a great run and we appreciate all the trust that clients have placed in us and the incredible team of employees that helped us build the firm.’
St James’s Place declined to comment.