Cuts loom at F&C as Grisay steps down

ACTIVIST investor Edward Bramson is expected to slash costs at F&C Asset Management after the departure of the chief executive, his rival, cemented his control of the group.

Bramson, who won a bitter boardroom battle to lead the board of F&C in February, was yesterday named executive chairman after chief executive Alain Grisay decided to retire, a decision blamed by analysts on conflicts between the two.

F&C said Bramson has taken interim control with “immediate effect”. Grisay, 58, who had sold his shares in the fund, will gradually relinquish his responsibilities before stepping down from the board at the annual general meeting in May. He will remain available as an advisor until the end of September.

David McCann at Numis said the decision was unsurprising given the “historical difference of opinion” between the executives.

According to Alan MacDougall, managing director of shareholder group Pirc, the reshuffle “raises more questions than it answers.”

Bramson, whose Sherborne Investors has a stake in F&C of nearly 20 per cent, ousted chairman Nick MacAndrew and veteran director Brian Larcombe in February and won places on the board for himself, Sherborne chairman Ian Brindle and independent Derham O’Neill.

He is now leading a review of F&C, driven by Sherborne’s strategy of turning around underperforming companies. The Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust from which F&C is founded is the oldest in the world but it has disappointed investors in recent years. Sources said, however, that there had been no bust-up between the two men and they would spend 15 months working together before Grisay’s departure.

TIME LINE | TEN MONTHS OF BOARDROOM STRIFE AT F&C

16 December 2010
Sherborne launches bid to remove Nick MacAndrew from the board

25 January 2011
Alain Grisay tells Sherborne that signs of clients returning shows its strategy is
working

3 February 2011
MacAndrew is ousted as F&C chairman at a shareholder meeting and replaced by New York-based Bramson

16 March 2011
Grisay sells one million F&C shares

4 April 2011
It emerges that Edward Bramson’s Guernsey-domiciled Sherborne Investors has bought 2.65m F&C shares since mid-March, giving it a stake of nearly 20 per cent

15 June 2011
F&C says Grisay has sold 500,000 shares worth £381,750

3 August 2011
F&C beats analysts’ expectations when it says assets under management have risen to £108bn in the first-half, up 13.3 per cent from June 2010

6 October 2011
Grisay announces he will retire as chief executive the following May

25 October 2011
F&C board due to publish results of its strategic review