eFC Briefing: Swiss Money Managers in Focus

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UBS shook up portfolio teams. Credit Suisse and State Street Corp. named CEOs for their asset management divisions. Merrill's ousted fixed-income chief lands at Duet Group.

UBS Global Asset Management made numerous changes in its equity and fixed-income portfolio management teams, reportedly to address recent poor performance. John Leonard became sole head of equities, a role he had shared since October with Tom Madsen, who's left the firm. Among other changes reported by Financial News:

Nick Irish was hired from HSBC Halbis as a senior portfolio manager in global equities. William Weng joined from Credit Suisse Asset Management as head of active quantitative equities, where "he is expected to build a larger team," Financial News said. Bill Ferri was promoted to head of alternative and quantitative investments, replacing Joe Scoby, who became the UBS's chief risk officer. Curt Custard, head of global multi-asset strategies, was hired from Schroders and replaces Brian Singer. Fixed-income arrivals include currency specialist Bob Jolly from SEI and Liz Ward from Russell Investments. UBS fixed-income managers who left in recent months include Thomas Clarkson, head of U.S. long duration; Michael Marcowitz, head of U.S. short duration; Giovanni Pagani, senior bond manager; and Stuart Piper, head of bonds in Asia.


In a separate UBS-related move, Phil Allison took over as head of cash trading and execution. He replaced Nick Holtby, who is on sabbatical but not expected to resume the same role on his return, according to Financial News. Allison was the bank's head of automated trading.


Credit Suisse Group said its Americas region chief , Rob Shafir, took on the added responsibility of chief executive of the asset management division. He replaced David Blumer, who left the bank to join Swiss Reinsurance as head of financial markets. Shafir joined Credit Suisse in 2007 after 17 years with Lehman Brothers, most recently as head of equities. Credit Suisse also hired Sakthi Siva as Asia Pacific equity strategist, starting in June. She was UBS's chief Asia strategist, based in Singapore since January 2004.


Scott Powers was named president and chief executive officer by State Street Global Advisors, ending a difficult period for the asset management arm of the largest provider of custodial and other administrative services to institutions. He was U.S. CEO of London-based Old Mutual plc, and previously held senior management positions at Mellon Institutional Asset Management and the Boston Company Asset Management. Powers replaces James S. Phalen, who had filled the role on an interim basis since January, when previous incumbent William W. Hunt resigned and parent State Street Corp. set aside $618 million for lawsuits stemming from its bond funds' exposure to sub-prime mortgage investments. Phalen will resume his previous role as head of international operations for State Street's investment servicing and investment research and trading businesses.


U.K. alternative investments firm Duet Group said it hired Osman Semerci as chief executive and managing partner. Semerci had headed Merrill Lynch's global fixed income, currencies and commodities businesses before being ousted last October when the division reported massive losses from sub-prime related exposures. He also served as co-president of Europe, Middle East and Africa markets and investment banking, and previously spent separate periods heading fixed-income and equity trading and sales in that region and in Asia. Duet, with $1.7 billion under management, was founded in 2002 by Alain Schibl and Henry Gabay, co-chairmen and managing partners. Gabay is also a Merrill Lynch alumnus.


A host of senior bankers have left their firms for private-equity jobs recently. They include:

- John Coyle joined Permira from JPMorgan Chase, where he led the financial sponsors team. He is Permire's co-head of North American business.

- Olivier Sarkozy, co-head of UBS's financial institutions banking group, joined Carlyle Group in February.

- In March, Louis P Friedman, Bear Stearns's global mergers and acquisitions chairman, jumped to hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management to run a new fund focused on private equity and long-term public holdings.

- Christopher Varelas, a Citigroup dealmaker for technology companies, left to join fledgling firm Bigwood Capital, a venture capital and PE firm founded by former Flextronics Chief Executive Michael Marks.

- Media and communications banker Andrew Tisdale left Morgan Stanley to join Providence Equity Partners, a PE firm concentrating in the sector, according to Financial News. He was global co-head of Morgan Stanley's media and communications group.