Norris takes full ownership of Argonaut; Polin made chair; Russ and Income funds move to Liontrust Thursday 07 Apr 2016

Norris takes full ownership of Argonaut; Polin made chair; Russ and Income funds move to Liontrust

 

Europe boutique Argonaut Capital has announced a number of changes to the business, including founder Barry Norris taking full control, the appointment of Sanlam CEO Jonathan Polin as chairman and the sale of its Income funds to Liontrust.

Norris will assume full ownership of the asset manager, subject to completion via a scheme of arrangement and regulatory approval.

Argonaut Capital was formed as a joint venture between the founders and Britannic Asset Management (later known as Resolution then Ignis) in 2005. A passive 40% minority stake in Argonaut was then retained by Standard Life Investments following its acquisition of Ignis in 2014.

 

Following completion of the deal, SLI and European Income fund manager Oliver Russ will exit the business.

Norris said Argonaut will flourish as a fully independent business: "This ownership agreement demonstrates my belief in Argonaut and my long-term personal commitment to the business, our people and our unitholders."

Argonaut also announced it would use this opportunity to focus on the core parts of the business, including its European Alpha, pan-European Alpha and Absolute Return franchises, which now have more than £1.1bn AUM.

As a result, Liontrust will acquire Argonaut's £169m European Income and £131m Enhanced Income funds, with manager Oliver Russ moving to the group. The transition of the funds is expected to be completed in early June 2016.

Upon completion of the purchase, Liontrust will merge the vehicles into two soon-to-launch funds: the Liontrust European Income and Liontrust European Enhanced Income funds.

Norris commented: "We feel it is important that our Income fund unitholders can have the opportunity to remain invested with Oliver, with minimal disruption. We wish Oliver success for the future and all the best in building his income franchise on the Liontrust platform."

Meanwhile, Sanlam CEO Jonathan Polin, who played an instrumental role in founding Argonaut alongside Norris, has been named chairman of the group.

He said: "I have a long association with Argonaut and am extremely pleased to witness its strong growth, particularly since the business became operationally independent. Argonaut's investment process has proven the test of time and this move will allow the group to continue to invest in its investment team and distribution capabilities."

Argonaut last year added two analysts to its investment team, which is managed by Greg Bennett. Bennett has been co-manager on the firm's European Alpha, pan European Alpha and Absolute Return strategies alongside Norris for the last four years.

Bennett said: "We have broadened our investment team through recent hires and will continue to deepen our talent pool of analysts capable of identifying earnings surprise."