Neptune dismisses talk of buyout plans

Global equity boutique Neptune has rejected talk that the business is up for sale as it grapples with areas of weak performance and high exposure to troubled emerging markets.

Sales director at the London-based firm, Patrick Berton, said senior staff – who own a 75 per cent stake – are “certainly not” trying to find a buyer.

The group is yet to publish 2013 results, but Mr Berton said the year had represented a step-change in Neptune’s fortunes as investors returned to a more pro-risk mentality that chimes with its aggressive approach.

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He cited Mark Martin’s £188.6m UK Mid Cap fund as a good performer, adding that Rob Burnett’s £580.8m European Opportunities and Felix Wintle’s £425.9m US Opportunities funds are seeing healthy inflows.

Neptune was founded in 2002 by City veteran Robin Geffen and enjoyed runaway success as its focus on emerging markets paid off. In 2006, Mr Geffen’s Russia & Greater Russia and China funds were the top two performers in the industry.

But in recent years the group’s pro-risk style and emerging market focus have been wrong-footed by the US Federal Reserve’s decision to unwind monetary support. A lack of bond funds has also hit the group.

Currently, 45 per cent of the group’s funds are bottom-quartile in the past five years, and 65 per cent are below-median, according to FE data, while 37.5 per cent are bottom-quartile over three years.

In 2012, the group’s revenues fell by 14 per cent year on year, while gross profits fell 16.8 per cent to £45.6m.