Britannic appoints Gartmore managers to run core funds

Britannic Asset Management has recruited Gartmore European managers Tim Callaghan and Adrian Darley to run its core retail and institutional European equity funds.

Callaghan, who manages the 56m Gartmore European Focus fund, and Darley, who runs the 81m Gartmore European Growth portfolio, have six-month contracts at the group and will continue in their roles until these terminate.

Britannic has also hired Jonathan Fearon, who works within the Gartmore European team, but not as named manager. He will join Britannic in three months.

At Britannic, Callaghan, Darley and Fearon will take over the running of 1bn in retail and institutional mandates, inc- luding the 100m European Growth fund.

As a result of their impending arrivals, Andrew Killian, head of European equities at Britannic, and Diane McEwan, investment manager, have left the group.

Jonathan Polin, sales and marketing director at Britannic, says that in the interim period, the European Growth fund and institutional mandates will be run by Fiona Page, European investment manager, and Kevin Fenelon, investment director.

“Fiona and Kevin will run these European funds using the group’s market and sector allocation model while they wait for the new managers to arrive,” he says. Despite working to correct the fund, Polin says the poor performance of the European Growth fund was the rationale for the change.

Over three years to March 27, 2006, the fund is ranked 60 out of 86 funds in the IMA Europe ex UK sector, following a return of 27.5%, compared with the sector average of 105.9%, according to Standard & Poor’s.

“We want to have decent performance across all the asset classes we manage money in and when this doesn’t happen you sometimes have to take radical action,” says Polin.

The funds Callaghan, Darley and Fearon run will be completely separate to the group’s high alpha funds, managed by Barry Norris and Oliver Russ at the Britannic boutique Argonaut.

Indeed, when they arrive, the money will be run from Britannic’s London office, the first time in-house money has been managed outside of its Glasgow base.

In response, Gartmore last week announced that head of European equities Stephen Jones is to become co-manager on the European Focus and European Growth funds.

He will also become co-manager of the Gartmore Sicav Eurobloc fund, which Darley also runs.

According to Gartmore, it will work with the three departing managers over an extended period to ensure an orderly transition of their responsibilities.

Polin says: “The key job of the three managers is to first improve the performance of our core funds. Once this has been achieved, we will discuss new opportunities and potential funds to launch. However, whatever we do, will be investment, not marketing, led.”