March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Lansdowne Partners Ltd., the biggest European hedge fund focused on stock picking, said co-founder Paul Ruddock will retire as chief executive officer at the end of June to focus on interests outside asset management.
The firm, with $12.4 billion of assets, will start looking for a successor, London-based Lansdowne said in a statement today. Ruddock, 54, founded the hedge fund 15 years ago with Steven Heinz after running the international division at U.K. asset manager Schroders Plc.
Ruddock is stepping down after the Lansdowne Developed Markets Fund, the firm’s biggest with $8.6 billion of assets, rebounded from its worst year in 2011 to post an 18 percent gain in 2012. The hedge fund’s wager that a global economic recovery would benefit banks such as London-based Lloyds Banking Group Plc proved premature in 2011, triggering a 20 percent loss.
“The firm is at a very good place,” Ruddock said in an interview. “The amount of assets are stable and we’ve had very little turnover in staff. Clearly, if I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be stepping down.”
Lansdowne’s investment decisions won’t be affected by Ruddock’s retirement because he ran the operations-side of the firm, the hedge fund said in the statement.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II knighted Ruddock for services to the arts and philanthropy last year. He is chairman of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art appointed him a trustee in 2011.
The Sunday Times newspaper estimated Ruddock’s personal wealth at about 270 million pounds ($407 million), according to an April article. He donated 570,000 pounds to the U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party between 2003 and 2011, the newspaper said.
Lansdowne’s Developed Markets Fund, managed by former Merrill Lynch & Co. investment managers Stuart Roden and Peter Davies, has posted an average annual return of 13 percent since its inception in August 2001, according to a letter sent to the firm’s investors in January. Hedge funds focused on stocks gained 4.8 a year on average over the same time period, while the Standard & Poor’s Index posted annual gains of 4.1 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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