Overhaul at Skagen as chief executive set to depart

Morningstar has put its ratings on three Skagen funds under review following two high-profile staff changes at the firm.

The Norwegian asset management firm is also looking into a change in its ownership structure from its current model in which the majority of the firm is owned by the three founding partners.

Harald Espedal, chief executive and investment director of Skagen, is set to leave firm while Kristian Falnes, lead manager of the Skagen Global fund, has already stepped down.

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Knut Gezelius, who joined Skagen from Goldman Sachs Asset Management in May, has been appointed as the replacement for Mr Falnes and Knut Harald Nilsson has been appointed co-manager on the Skagen Kon-Tiki fund.

Filip Weintraub, who had previously managed Skagen Global before leaving the firm, will rejoin Skagen in January to launch a new global fund.

Ole Søeberg has been promoted to investment director, though he will continue to run the Skagen Vekst fund as well, while Leif Ola Rød will take on the role of chief executive from the start of January 2015.

In light of the extensive changes at management and fund manager level, Morningstar has put its ratings under review for the three funds sold in the UK; Skagen Kon-Tiki, Skagen Global and Skagen Vekst.

The Kon-Tiki fund was previously on a ‘gold’ rating, while the Global fund was on ‘silver’ and Vekst was on ‘neutral’.

Morningstar’s head of research, Ruli Viljoen, said the funds had been placed under review “pending further evaluation of the significant changes” at Skagen.

“In addition to the personnel changes, we understand Skagen is considering changes in its ownership structure (most of the company is now held by the three founders),” she said.

“Although we note the firm stresses it wishes to maintain an independent ownership structure, this adds an additional element of uncertainty in our view.”