Swip Europe team to join BlackRock

The European equity team at Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (Swip) is leaving to join BlackRock.

Nigel Bolton head of European equities at Swip, is expected to join BlackRock in January, taking seven members of his team with him. Alister Hibbert and Vincent Devlin, Swip investment directors, will join Bolton alongside five analysts.

Bolton is expected to take the same role as head of European equities, at BlackRock. At Swip he managed the £32m Pan-European Equity fund since 2004. Hibbert managed the £276m European Select Growth fund, while Devlin managed the £506m European Growth fund.

Steven Maxwell at Swip will take Bolton’s place as head of European equities. He will also continue his responsibility for all of Swip’s institutional portfolios. Maxwell will be supported by Rory Hammerson and Kathleen Dewandeleer, who will assume responsibility for the pan-European retail funds. Catie Wearmouth will take over the continental European funds.

The BlackRock European team suffered a blow last year when Niall Gallagher left to join T Rowe Price. Gavin Corr also left six months afterwards. BlackRock says the eight new recruits more than fill the gap.

There are two onshore retail funds and five offshore funds within the BlackRock European fund range. The onshore funds are the £271m European and £105m European Dynamic funds, both managed by Alice Gaskell since May this year.

Meanwhile, Swip says it might recruit new managers from outside, but will not necessarily replace the full eight who have left. “It was a big team,” says Graham Wood, chief executive officer equities at Swip. “We [still] have four investment directors. We might add more fund managers.”

Wood says Swip is in the process of changing its European strategy, the main focus of which is to move up the capitalisation scale. “The patterns of value are shifting towards larger stocks,” he says.

“As a sector there is quite a big choice [in European equities],” says Tim Cockerill, head of research at Rowan & Co Capital Management “It’s very competitive. Swip have been doing quite well. We’ve been watching it getting better.”