AJ Bell  

AJ Bell knocks Merian fund from buylist after merger

AJ Bell knocks Merian fund from buylist after merger

Investment platform AJ Bell has ditched the Merian UK Smaller Companies portfolio from its favourite funds list following the asset manager’s takeover by Jupiter.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said the decision stemmed from the “corporate uncertainty” that had arisen over the two asset managers combining.

He said: “While lead manager Dan Nickols has committed to staying following the takeover, there is no clarity regarding the structure of the team. 

“With this uncertainty likely to persist for some time, we feel it is prudent to act now.”

The £1.2bn Merian UK Smaller Companies fund has outperformed the IA UK Smaller Companies sector by 13 per cent over the past five years, returning 70 per cent to its investors.

Its performance has dwindled slightly over the past year, returning 5.8 per cent and just slightly beating its peers.

Jupiter’s buyout of rival fund house Merian Global Investors was the latest acquisition to hit the UK fund management market. The combined group will have assets under management of more than £65bn.

There has been a number of management shake ups since the acquisition’s announcement, with Steve Davies being replaced as manager of both Jupiter’s UK Growth Fund and UK Growth investment trust.

His replacement on the UK growth fund is Christopher Smith, who joins the company from Newton Investment Management, while Richard Buxton, former-chief executive of Merian, will take over the trust after the board insisted on the switch.

AJ Bell has replaced the UK Smaller Companies fund with the £260m Tellworth UK Smaller Companies fund while adding the Evenlode Global Income fund to the favourite funds selection.

The Tellworth portfolio, launched at the end of 2018, has returned 7.6 per cent over the past 12 months compared with a sector average of 4.9 per cent.

Meanwhile the £600m Evenlode fund has beaten the IA Global Equity Income sector by 3 per cent over the past year, returning 7.7 per cent.

Mr Hughes added: “We have a very strong replacement in the Tellworth UK Smaller Companies fund, managed by Paul Marriage. 

“During his time at Cazenove and Schroders, Mr Marriage built a superb track record and having set up Tellworth in late 2018, we have the opportunity to add this high quality and experienced manager with a much smaller fund to our favourite funds list.”

Mr Hughes said AJ Bell had added the Evenlode Global Income fund to broaden the choice of global equity funds for customers, saying the Evenlode team had proven themselves to be “highly skilled investors” over many years.

imogen.tew@ft.com

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