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Skandia co-founder Hughes in retail distribution launch

Skandia co-founder Spike Hughes is staging a comeback with the launch of Cohesion Investments, which will aim to help institutional fund managers bring their products to the retail intermediary market.

Mr Hughes has reassembled the team that backed his previous venture, Insynergy Investment Management, for the launch, Investment Adviser can reveal.

But while Insynergy focused on launching retail fund structures that were then managed by respected fund managers, such as Crispin Odey, the new firm will solely act as a fund promoter on behalf of asset management firms without retail distribution staff.

Insynergy folded last year after most of its funds failed to gain sufficient assets to be commercially viable, but Mr Hughes said the new business would benefit from its status as solely a distributor.

He described the firm as taking a “business development” role in institutional firms’ development, saying it would deliver marketing and sales duties, and possibly other roles such as strategy and client servicing.

He has signed up former Cofunds and Skandia chief executive Brett Williams to act as a non-executive director for the new firm, along with Dragon’s Den star James Caan, who will act as chairman. Both executives worked in similar roles at Insynergy.

Mr Hughes said Odey Asset Management had already enlisted his services for the new launch.

“There are great names out there that want to access distribution, which is what I have been doing for quite some time,” Mr Hughes told Investment Adviser.

“The beauty of what we’re doing now is we are taking products with track records, with scale and critical mass, and bringing them to new markets. For different people in different ways we will be a kind of outsourced front office.”

Mr Hughes said he was also set to bring equity income products from Kleinwort Benson Investors to a retail audience.

Mr Hughes said: “I have a huge amount of respect for what Crispin Odey does, and he has a big business with a lot of capability. Kleinwort Benson has been very successful in the institutional space but it has not been really involved in the IFA or discretionary markets.”

Cohesion is also planning “an innovative outsourced investment solution” according to its website. Mr Hughes declined to give details on the propositions but said he had been approached by “a number of people”.

Mr Hughes established the multi-manager business at Hargreaves Lansdown in 2001, which is now running almost £3bn in assets, and has also helped establish similar propositions at Winterthur and Skandia Investment Group.

“We’re still in the very early stages of development - there is a lot of contract work still to be done,” Mr Hughes added.