Pioneer funds under review from Morningstar following staff suspensions

Exit-Man-Door-Depart-Leave-700.jpg

Pioneer Investments fixed income range been placed under review by ratings agency Morningstar following the suspension of two senior members of the team.

The Financial Times reported yesterday Tanguy Le Saout, head of European fixed income, and Ali Chabaane, head of portfolio construction, were being investigated.

Pioneer’s parent company Unicredit is currently in talks to sell the business to Amundi.

Pioneer had not been willing to comment on the reports this morning, but the Morningstar note confirms the pair have been suspended for acting against the commercial interests of the company.

The asset manager has since issued a statement pointing out its strong results over several years and its long-tenured team.

A spokeswoman for Pioneer says the European fixed income team is based on a “matrix” approach involving 15 specialist portfolio managers and 24 research analysts.

The funds under review are the Pioneer European Aggregate Bond, European Bond, European Corporate Bond and Global Aggregate Bond and the Obbl Euro funds.

No change would be made to ratings on the firm’s equity line up.

Cosimo Marasciulo has now taken over as head of the European fixed income team. Declan Murray will take over Chabaane’s duties.

“While we appreciate that Pioneer has taken the issue seriously and acted swiftly to protect investors, we think the suspension is a serious event that warrants a reassessment of the fund’s investment merit,” a Morningstar statement on the issue read.

It describes Le Saout as one of the architects of the investment process across several key strategies, from Euro and US interest rates positioning, to sovereign spreads bets and event driven trades.

It says until the suspensions it had seen no evidence of staff turnover connected to a potential change in Pioneer’s ownership.

An acquisition by Amundi would likely mean job losses for Pioneer.

Morningstar says it will be meeting with the fixed income team in due course.