Argonaut hires sales team from Neptune and signals broader European distribution in long term

European equities boutique Argonaut Capital Partners has recruited three distribution experts from London rival Neptune Investment Management, and signalled the possibility of a stronger Continental focus over time.

The €1bn asset manager has hired John Lester, previously head of strategic partnerships at Neptune, as well as manager for UK strategic partners Dennis Pellerito and broker sales executive Andy Nickson.

In separate news, Argonaut will become operationally separate from Ignis next week, after its senior managers at Argonaut increased their stake in their joint venture with Ignis to a controlling interest last year.

Argonaut’s four unit trusts – IM Argonaut European Alpha fund; IM Argonaut European Income fund; IM Argonaut European Enhanced Income fund; and IM Argonaut European Absolute Return fund – have lost the co-branding in their name, and will convert to open-ended investment companies.

Much of the 25% of non-UK assets Argonaut runs are from Europe. Lester said Argonaut funds were already registered in various Continental countries including Italy, Switzerland and Spain, and his team would be able to take “a more active role” in distribution there in future.

He added a similar trend was emerging among Continental investors that he had seen among UK intermediary fund buyers under the Retail Distribution Review – “looking for cheap components from waterfront manufacturers, or specialised boutiques that focus on their core competence”.

Fund manager Olly Russ (pictured) said European equities had not been as cheap as they are now, “but you have to take a long-term view, because the primary factor in [an investment return] long-term is the price you buy the market, not earnings per share or GDP growth.

“The European market is very cheap relative to its own history, relative to the US and other asset classes such as government bonds and cash rates.” It is also still up about 6% this year despite the negative macro news, he added.



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