Barry Norris eyes Argonaut growth after split from SLI        

Barry Norris argonautBarry Norris is eyeing growth in Argonaut Capital after buying out Standard Life Investment’s stake in the asset manager.

Norris says the buyout will mean he is more able to invest in the business and build the investment team.

“I can really run the business in the way I want to run it and invest more in the business and ensure Argonaut maximises the full potential on the investment side and servicing our clients,” says Norris, speaking to Fund Strategy about the deal.

The deal saw fund manager Oliver Russ, who is lead manager of the £169m Argonaut European Income fund and the £131m European Enhanced Income fund, move to Liontrust, taking the two funds with him.

The proceeds from that sale coupled with Norris’ own money mean when the deal is approved in June Norris will own 100 per cent of the business. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Argonaut will retain the European Alpha, pan-European Alpha and Absolute Return funds, which collectively have around £1.1bn in assets.

“Five years ago there were only two people in Argonaut, Oliver and myself. Today there are 17. We’ll continue to build out our investment team with young talent and bring that talent through organically,” says Norris.

However, he has ruled out poaching any star managers from other companies, in favour of building up the asset manager through smaller hires.

“I don’t think we are going to be poaching other star managers. From my point of view it is important for me that the investment team has one investment process, one shared philosophy and there is a team.

“So we will not be making lateral hires of well-known managers, what we will be doing is hiring young, talented people and bringing them through the ranks. There will be opportunities in the future for many of them to get hands-on fund management responsibilities.”

Norris says the asset manager could move outside of its specialism of European equities, but will stick to the core strategy of looking for companies that provide earnings surprise.

“Really any asset class where earnings surprise is relevant has some potential for us,” he says. “Having said that we are specialist in European equities and have no plans to go into other asset classes. In the future, who knows what asset class seems an incredible opportunity and if we can attract assets and think our process would work there and have resource to do it, we would consider it.”