Jupiter mulls succession planning as Merian deadline approaches

Jupiter Asset Management is engaged in a succession planning process as it prepares for the three year anniversary of its acquisition of Merian Global Investors. 

When Jupiter acquired Merian in the spring of 2020, several of Merian’s high profile fund managers, including UK equity manager Richard Buxton and global equity investors Ian Heslop and Amadeo Alerntorn, were shareholders in Merian. 

As part of the sale agreement, all three, and other individuals at the firm, were granted an incentive package to motivate them to continue to work at Jupiter for three years following the takeover. 

FTAdviser understands this incentive package pays out next year.

As FTAdviser previously disclosed, Heslop took the decision earlier this year to step back from managing the Global Equity Absolute Return (GEAR) fund at Jupiter, for personal reasons.

He had relocated to Austria but continues to work in the business in a role that involves interacting with major clients and also developing the algorithm which underpins the strategies on which he and Alentorn work on.  

This fund has performed very strongly over the past year, returning 7 per cent, compared with 1 per cent for the average fund in the IA Absolute Return sector in the same time period. 

Those strategies had an AUM of more than £20bn at one time, but its about a tenth of that now. 

Buxton is the manager of the Jupiter UK Alpha fund, once considered something of a star fund manager within the industry and running over £3bn at Schroders. 

His fund is now £735mn in size, and as the chart above shows, has performed broadly in line with the index in recent years. 

Performance has been strong this year to date after a tough period. It is presently one of the very few UK All Companies funds delivering a positive return since the start of this year.  

Other former Merian managers who account for a material part of Jupiter’s assets under management include Richard Watts and Nick Williamson, who run the Chyrsalis Investment Trust and the £2.1bn Merian UK Mid Cap fund. 

This fund is another which was once a strong performer, but has suffered sharply over the past two years, and is now among the bottom 25 per cent of funds in the IA UK All Companies sector over one, three and five years. 

Buxton, Heslop, Alentorn and Watts were among the fund managers who participated in the management buyout of the company from its parent, Old Mutual Global investors, before subsequently selling the business on to Jupiter. 

Another of the managers who took part in the buyout was Dan Nickols, a smaller companies investor. Nickols recently won the mandate to run the Rights and Issues investment trust for Jupiter, a £155mn trust where the previous manager retired.

John Little, a substantial private shareholder and former director at Jupiter, has been highly critical of the company’s strategy, and singled out the acquisition of Merian as an error, describing it as “as bad as it gets”, from a corporate point of view.