Gam Investments boosts Hong Kong presence

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Beleaguered asset manager Gam Investments has added to its investment team in Hong Kong.

Rob Mumford, GAM Investments

Gam Investments has appointed Rob Mumford to its global emerging markets equities team. He is based in Hong Kong and will work with Tim Love and Joaquim Nogueira, managing $970m in Hong Kong.

Last December, interim chief executive David Jacob revealed a major restructuring plan at Gam in the wake of a tempestuous year for the firm that led to the resignation of former boss Alexander Friedman.

Jacob announced plans to cut staff numbers by 10% and cancel the 2018 dividend while warning that Gam was likely to post a loss for the year.

The firm froze redemptions from its bond funds with CHF7.4bn ($7.55bn) in assets after the suspension in July of Tim Haywood, the fixed income investment director for the unconstrained/absolute return bond strategy, which led to a rush of withdrawals. An internal inquiry had identified due diligence and record-keeping failures. Haywood’s absolute return bond funds were  subsequently liquidated, which accounted for almost 40% of Gam’s total net outflows of CHF3.2bn in the third quarter.

Friedman quit amid criticisms over his handling of the debacle, which had been triggered by the revelations of Haywood’s conduct by an unidentified whistleblower.  The firm’s problems were further compounded by a profits warning related to its purchase of Cantab, a UK hedge fund.

It is an unclear whether Mumford’s appointment in Hong Kong signals a stronger focus on Asia and emerging markets in general. Mumford joins from MNP Advisers, a consultancy servicing asset managers and family offices, where he was managing partner. Previously, he spent ten years as an emerging markets equity portfolio manager at Credit Suisse, CQS and Silver Tree after periods as head of absolute return research Asia at Macquarie Bank and head of Hong Kong and China research at Société Générale HK.

Gam employs 900 people in 14 countries, with investment centres in London, Cambridge, Zurich, Hong Kong, New York, Milan and Lugano. The group had assets under management of CHF 139.1bn as of 30 November 2018.

However, Jacob is unlikely to keep the reins on the re-structured group for the long term, having indicated to the Financial Times in December that he has excluded himself from Gam’s search for a permanent chief executive.

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