Both Mr Harker and Mr Edwards will continue to work as normal for the next six months — before leaving the company on March 31, 2021 — to ensure an “orderly transfer of responsibilities” to Jeff Atherton, who will take over as lead portfolio manager.
Mr Atherton, a senior portfolio manager, joined the Japan team in 2011 and will continue to be supported by the existing team of Adrian Edwards, Emily Badger and Stephen Harget, who were recruited over the past six years.
The team runs the £1.2bn Man GLG Japan Core Alpha fund. The portfolio is the absolute worst performer in the 72-strong IA Japan sector over the past year, losing 19 per cent compared to the sector’s 9 per cent return.
Over five years the fund, which is run with a large-cap, contrarian, value-biased approach, has returned 18 per cent compared to the sector’s 72 per cent.
Teun Johnston, chief executive at Man GLG, said: “One of Stephen and Neil’s great achievements and legacies has been building an exceptional team over the past decade who will continue to manage the fund from York following their retirements.
“We thank Stephen and Neil for their enormous contributions over the years, and wish them all the very best in their well-earned retirements. I hope that they will remain good friends of the firm.”
Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services, said the move was “good succession planning” and “should not be of concern to investors”.
He added: “While the team is losing a huge amount of experience, nothing will change day to day and the team-based process and philosophy will remain.
“Jeff is well known to the market and there will be a very orderly and unrushed handover.”
Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, agreed, adding that while Stephen was “the face of the strategy”, his focus on long-term reversion and real value bias would be “instilled into everything the team do”.
He added: "Despite periods of underperformance, the strategy boasts an impressive long-term track record and there's no reason to think that can't continue after Stephen's exit next year."
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