Fidelity Says Shah to Step Down From Special Situations Fund

Fidelity Worldwide Investment said Sanjeev Shah will step down as manager of the 2.8 billion-pound ($4.4 billion) Fidelity Special Situations Fund, five years after taking over from Anthony Bolton.

Shah, 43, will be replaced by Alex Wright, the money management firm said in a statement today. Wright will remain manager of Fidelity Special Values Plc and co-manager of the Fidelity U.K. Smaller Companies Fund with Jonathan Winton.

Shah took over from Bolton at the start of 2008, months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. roiled markets worldwide. The fund, started by Bolton in 1979, became Fidelity’s flagship U.K. product, helping the company to become the country’s largest asset manager. The pool is ranked top among its peers in the years since it opened, according to data compiled by Morningstar Inc.

“He took over the fund from Bolton at a murderous time for the market,” Mark Dampier, head of investment research at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc, Britain’s biggest retail broker, said in a telephone interview. “In the last 18 months or so, the fund has performed pretty well. There was always pressure on him, but he stuck to his guns.”

Shah’s performance was initially hurt by the fund’s holdings of banks in 2010 and 2011, but had started to rebound in the second quarter of 2012, Dampier said. Since taking over, he generated a 50.2 percent return, outpacing the FTSE All Share Index’s 28 percent gain, according to Morningstar. That puts Shah 42nd in his peer group, the data show.

Values Fund

Shah will hand over full responsibility to Wright in January to take up a part-time role training portfolio managers at the firm. He started talks with Fidelity at the beginning of 2013 to step back from running money on a day-to-day basis after 17 years in the industry.

“I am not burnt out in anyway,” he told reporters on a conference call. “This clearly is a job that requires 110 percent dedication and for personal reasons I don’t want to maintain that level of focus and discipline as I have done.”

Wright, 34, will see his assets under management increase fourfold when he takes over. He joined the firm in 2001 as a research analyst and began running money as portfolio manager of Fidelity’s U.K. Smaller Companies Fund in February 2008. Since then, he has generated a 209 percent return, compared with a 72 percent average for his peer group, Morningstar said. He took over the Special Values fund from Shah 12 months ago.

‘Same Mindset’

“I have the same value, contrarian approach that Sanjeev has had for the Special Situations Fund and Anthony before him,” Wright said. “We have the same mindset looking at undervalued and unloved areas, which has led us to hold similar kinds of positions.”

Both fund managers are bullish on the banking industry and their biggest holdings include Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, and HSBC Holdings Plc, Wright said.

Fidelity Worldwide Investment has been independent from Boston-based Fidelity Management & Research since 1980.

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