Jupiter begins European equity rebuild with fund launch

 Jupiter begins European equity rebuild with fund launch

Jupiter has begun to rebuild its European equity fund offering following the departure of its long-serving fund manager Alexander Darwall with the launch of a small cap fund.

The Jupiter European Smaller Companies fund will be run by Mark Heslop, who joined Jupiter from Columbia Threadneedle in October 2019 and ran a similar fund at his previous employer.

He will manage the fund alongside his colleagues Mark Nichols and Sohil Chotai, with whom he has worked since 2015.

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Stephen Pearson, chief investment officer at Jupiter, said: “Mark has demonstrated that he can deliver attractive returns over the long term in what is a specialist sector, with his previous fund sitting in the first quartile over one, three and five years.

"We are pleased to be able to offer our clients access to this important asset class through a manager with such a high-quality track record, while building on our capabilities in both European equities and smaller companies investing.”

Mr Darwall’s departure resulted in the board of the £1bn Jupiter European investment trust moving the trust to his new firm Devon Asset Management.

Under the terms of his departure, Mr Darwall agreed not to launch an open-ended European equity fund in the UK for two years.

Jupiter has two such funds with combined assets of £6.6bn.

Ben Willis, head of portfolio management at Chase De Vere, said: “It was a huge disappointment for Jupiter to lose star European fund manager Alexander Darwall last year and they faced the difficult task of trying to replace him.

"The recruitment of Mark Heslop was a reasonable choice as he was part of a successful team at Colombia Threadneedle, which managed money in a similar style to Jupiter and which was also responsible for running a European smaller companies fund.  

"We think there are good opportunities in Europe, including in European smaller companies, although we will take a ‘wait and see’ approach before considering whether to invest.”

The move to launch the fund comes just weeks after Jupiter acquired rival fund house Merian Global Investors. One of the first outcomes of the takeover was the replacement of Jupiter’s UK manager Steve Davies with Merian’s head of UK Equities Richard Buxton on the Jupiter UK Growth Trust. 

Jupiter’s decision to launch at European smaller companies equity fund creates a potential crossover with Merian, which already has just such a fund, managed by Ian Ormiston. 

A representative of Jupiter said that at the time Mr Heslop joined the firm in 2019, the company made it clear that it would launch a smaller companies fund managed by him.

In terms of the prospect of the company having two funds investing in the same area of the market and competing against each other, Phil Wagstaff, global head of distribution, said: “There will be an integration period during which we will look at the optimal product offering for our clients.