Can UBS revive its funds business?
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Can UBS revive its funds business?

The merged UBS found itself with two brand name asset managers: Brinson Partners and Phillips & Drew. Trouble was both were performing badly looking for value in markets that only rewarded growth. Investors lost their patience and finally star managers Gary Brinson and Tony Dye quit. Where do they go from here? UBS is merging the operations but keeping the names. The philosophy also stays on a bet that the pendulum has swung back and value investing will again produce results. Julian Marshall examines the chances

The past five years have not been good for value investors and no-one is more aware of this than UBS Asset Management. In the first quarter of this year, UBS admitted that it suffered £13 billion ($21 billion) of net client losses on the back of poor performance.

These defections occurred on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, Calpers, the California Public Employees Retirement System, took a £1 billion account away from Brinson, the Swiss bank’s US fund manager. Meanwhile in the UK, Phillips & Drew was losing a £750 million mandate from Strathclyde Pension Fund, among others.

The signs were not good and speculation raged that the group’s institutional business was holed below the water line. This image was not helped by the departures of Tony Dye and Gary Brinson, the respective investment heads of Phillips & Drew and Brinson. Both are high profile names in a personality-driven industry – investment management houses are valued as much for their intellectual capital as any concrete assets they hold. The departures of Dye and Brinson were seen in some quarters as desperate acts of bloodletting in an attempt to rejuvenate the business: poor performance could be blamed on the old heads who were now being cast out, ran the received wisdom.

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