April 28 (Bloomberg) -- Gartmore Group Ltd. said fund manager Guillaume Rambourg will return to work after he was suspended last month amid an internal probe. The firm’s compliance chief left.
Rambourg, 39, will “initially” work as an investment analyst, pending approval from the U.K. regulator for him to execute client trades, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Meyer told investors on a conference call today. Rambourg previously helped to oversee the firm’s two biggest hedge funds.
Gartmore suspended him on March 30, saying he may have directed orders to buy and sell shares to favored brokers. The probe found Rambourg violated internal policy, the firm said today. Gartmore said there was “no suggestion of dishonesty” on his part, and no clients suffered losses.
“It’s important to get him back into the funds,” Meyer said. “Clients and investors will benefit from his continued participation.”
Rambourg was suspended on March 30, sending the London-based firm’s stock down 31 percent. Together with Roger Guy, he oversaw as much as 8.1 billion pounds ($12.3 billion), more than a third of Gartmore’s total assets under management. Guy blamed what he called “excessive” compliance rules introduced when Gartmore went public in December for Rambourg’s suspension, the Financial Times reported April 1, citing a conference call with investors.
Gerry Harvey, the firm’s head of compliance, left Gartmore about two or three weeks ago, Chief Financial Officer Keith Starling said on the call. Harvey was replaced by David Young on an interim basis. The departure isn’t linked to the probe, Starling said, declining to elaborate. Harvey wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Gartmore rose 16 percent to 164 pence in London trading today. The shares closed at 169 pence on the day before the company announced the investigation.
The FSA will decide it it’s satisfied with Gartmore’s probe before allowing Rambourg to handle client funds, Meyer said today. That process may take “a few months, and not days,” he said. Rambourg wasn’t available to comment today, spokeswoman Caroline Villiers said.
“There are still an awful lot of question marks about the whole affair,” said Katrina Hart, an analyst at Canaccord Adams in London, who has a “sell” recommendation on the stock. “We’ve still got to wait and see whether the FSA give him a clean bill of health. I really don’t feel I’ve been given enough clarity.”
The firm has been hiring additional fund managers to reduce its reliance on Guy and Rambourg. Gartmore today hired Darrell O’Dea, a former Threadneedle Asset Management executive, to work with Guy on his funds. His appointment follows that of John Bennett, a 16-year veteran of GAM Holding Ltd. in London, who joined in June to lead a team managing European equity mutual fund assets.
At the time of Rambourg’s suspension, he and Guy oversaw 4.6 billion pounds, while Bennett looked after 3.7 billion pounds.
Rambourg joined Gartmore in 1995 and focused on European equities. He co-managed the firm’s $2.3 billion Alphagen Capella fund with Guy since it started in 2000. He also managed the $828 million Alphagen Tucana Fund.
Alphagen Capella, which bets on rising or falling equities rose 12 percent in 2009. That pool had an average 7.5 percent annual return over the past five years. The Alphagen Tucana Fund rose 42 percent last year and 12 percent annually over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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