GAM Holding AG, the Swiss money manager that split from Julius Baer Group Ltd., named Alexander S. Friedman, the former global chief investment officer at UBS AG, as its new chief executive officer in a push for growth.
Friedman, 43, who left Switzerland’s biggest bank in June after revamping its investment process, will replace David Solo on Sept. 8, the Zurich-based company said in a statement today. Solo, 49, is stepping down “at his own request,” it said.
GAM seeks to attract inflows into its investment-management business, as it targets increasing annual net new money by 5 percent to 10 percent of assets under management. The company reported a turnaround in August with net new inflows of 1.3 billion Swiss francs ($1.4 billion) in the first half after outflows a year earlier.
“David Solo’s resignation comes as a surprise,” Michael Kunz, a Zurich-based analyst with Zuercher Kantonalbank who as a market perform rating on the stock, wrote in a note to investors. “The announcement raises questions whether the turnaround at GAM perhaps was too slow or if Solo had private reasons.”
The shares dropped as much as 3.9 percent and were down 3.1 percent in Zurich trading at 3:28 p.m. to 17.35 Swiss francs, valuing the company at 2.89 billion francs. GAM has dropped 0.3 percent this year.
Solo joined the group through GAM 2004 and became CEO of the enlarged asset-management division of Julius Baer in 2006. Following the separation from Julius Baer, he continued as CEO of the operating entities GAM and Swiss & Global Asset Management. He became group CEO of GAM Holding AG in April 2013.
“Today’s leadership change is a very natural progression for the group,” Solo said in the statement. “In Alex, the board has appointed a thoughtful, experienced manager with the right skills to lead the company.”
Friedman built up the investment office at UBS to make advisory services more transparent and boost returns after clients pulled 228.8 billion francs in three years through 2010 amid the financial crisis and an attack on Swiss banking secrecy. UBS reclaimed the title of biggest wealth manager in 2012 and last year attracted a net 53.5 billion francs in assets, the most since 2007.
“With the fundamental restructuring of the company now completed under David’s tenure, the next step in realizing our strategy will focus on increasing our recognition and market penetration in order to achieve the scale commensurate with the group’s potential,” Chairman Johannes De Gier said in the statement.