Our fund manager of the year award, sponsored by S&P Capital IQ, will go to a company or individual who has demonstrated strong performance or has taken a headline-grabbing stance during a high-profile corporate issue.
Well-judged deals against a complex economic backdrop, a commitment to shareholder activism or a canny ability to weather the near-constant volatility of world markets are all qualities capable of putting funds or private equity investment managers in the running for this prestigious award.
Our choice of fund managers makes a varied bunch, from the long-only funds such as Aberdeen, to the hedge fund managers such as Chris Hohn, and even KKR from the world of private equity.
It is never easy to perform well in the markets we have experienced in the past months but all those in our list have excelled in one way or another.
Gilbert won an award last year, so has done especially well to be nominated for this year’s shortlist, but his group’s elevation into the FTSE 100 is a big achievement.
Aberdeen Asset Management
On the back of a rising share price and a jump in pre-tax profits, Aberdeen Asset Management entered the FTSE 100 for the first time in March 2012.
Chief executive Martin Gilbert has steered the firm to the top on the back of strong performance by its emerging market equities, particularly Asia Pacific funds. Gilbert has become an outspoken commentator on anticipated waves of consolidation as banks look to dispose of their asset management businesses to raise capital.
He has also demonstrated an ability to make headlines by publically pitching for £2.1bn Alliance Trust, a Scottish rival, headed by Katherine Garrett-Cox.
KKR did a deal few expected last month when Walgreen’s took a 45 per cent stake in Alliance Boots, the UK high street stalwart bought out by the private equity firm in 2007 for £1.2bn. KKR’s 2007 buyout was dubbed “the best deal ever struck” at the time, but as markets deteriorated it began to look expensive. But KKR, whose Dominic Murphy was centrally involved, will get back around three times its investment – a high return for the private equity firm in the circumstances.
The Children’s Investment Fund (TCI)
In a validation of his activist stance, Chris Hohn, chief executive of TCI, has seen a return to form in 2012, as gains from the past year look set to offset the difficulties of 2008 in emphatic style. In 2011, TCI was up 7.3 per cent and in the year to date is up 12.5 per cent. Hohn has campaigned against Lloyds’ holding of £10bn of cocos (contingent convertible capital) and against Coal India’s pricing policies. The firm has also stood out for demanding bigger dividend payouts from Japan Tobacco.
Hohn set up TCI in 2003. His founding principle was to give a proportion of profits away to the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the charity established jointly with his wife.
Brevan Howard Asset Management
Alan Howard was the highest earning European hedge fund manager over 2011 – the industry’s second-worst year on record. His $26bn Master Fund returned 12.14 per cent net of fees, when comparable firms fell on average by 3.3 per cent. Howard ignored wishful thinking, betting on a marked drop in macroeconomic growth. The Master Fund is not the only high-achiever at Brevan Howard. The $32.6bn firm’s Asia Master Fund and Multi-Strategy Master Fund brought in 5.5 per cent returns.
French asset management giant Carmignac Gestion is poised to make inroads into the UK market after the opening of its London office in April, headed by Matthew Wright.
Carmignac’s European expansion plans include the launch of ten funds into the UK retail market and the asset manager has been steadily building up a sales presence in preparation, forging relationships with wealth managers, private banks and advisers.
Wright joined the 48bn euro giant in October 2011, from LV Asset Management, following its takeover by Threadneedle.
Carmignac is renowned for its multi-asset funds Patromoine and Emerging Patromoine and equity funds Carmignac Emerging Markets and Carmignac Commodities.