Exclusive: New French boutique reveals development plans

Located a stone’s throw away from the headquarters of French financial market watchdog AMF nearby Paris stock exchange, Salamandre AM is the latest asset manager to have been granted the regulator’s agreement on 23 December 2016.

The investment firm has been co-founded by a duet formed years ago, Camille Barbier (pictured left) and Sébastien Grasset (pictured right), chairman and chief executive officer of Salamandre AM respectively.

Speaking exclusively to InvestmentEurope, the pair outlines the development plans of their new boutique.

“Sébastien and I have worked together at Twenty First Capital then at Ecofi Investissements, both of which are Paris-based asset management companies.

“I was much focused on credit at Twenty First Capital with the launch and the management of the 21 Capital Rendement Euro Plus fund from 2012 to 2014 whereas my tenure at Ecofi enabled me to oversee the management of diversified strategies and multi-management,” says Barbier.

“In 2016, Sébastien and I decided to get on board of our own boutique adventure with the setup of tailored products, relying on our experience in credit and asset allocation,” the firm’s chairman adds.

Its CEO Sébastien Grasset explains the entrepreneurial virus has led the pair to launch Salamandre AM which currently tallies €460m in assets under management mainly coming from institutional clients.

“Our assets under management, which are quite comfortable, show high recognition from institutional clients for our management. We want to fulfil the needs of French institutions such as French Tier-2 mutual and insurance firms that need to cope with strengthening regulation like Solvency II.

“In addition, we want French IFAs to have access to the best practices of institutional asset management through our credit and diversified management expertises,” he pursues.

Salamandre AM has been built around four business lines : mutual fund management (dedicated AIFs, Ucits funds available to all investors), mandate management for institutional clients and for clients of French IFAs, asset allocation advisory.

The team, currently composed of six people, owns 67.45% of the company while the remaining 32.55% are split among other investment professionals.

“We are supporting institutional clients on their asset allocations through dedicated AIFs (a fixed income fund, a diversified fund and an equity fund of funds). We have earned the confidence of our institutional clients thanks to our active hands-on management of assets and the provision of related services with a single goal: ensuring that our clients appreciate our reactivity, our risk management approach and our transparency and accountability. Salamandre AM has also strong relationships with Ecofi Investissements,” the firm’s CEO explains.

The boutique’s Ucits funds, which have or are to be launched, are/will be domiciled in France but Salamandre AM’s co-founding pair may consider a Luxembourg Sicav as an option for the future of the company.

One fund launched, two others to follow
A strategy that has already been launched is the Salamandre Euro Rendement fund formerly known as Rendement Euro Sélection.

The fund was launched in July 2015 at 360Hixance AM – with management delegated to Ecofi Investissements.

Since inception, it is co-managed by the Salamandre’s head of Fixed Income Thomas Giudici – also former portfolio manager at Ecofi Investissements – and Camille Barbier.

“The Salamandre Euro Rendement fund applies a flexible approach which combines an assessment of credit fundamentals and a top down allocation. We invest in all credit segments. The fund holds predominantly debt instruments issued in euros.

“Over 2016, the fund has had net returns of 4.99% with a reduced volatility. We have had a quite aggressive allocation at the start of 2017 with a large bucket of high yield corporate bonds but now we have come back to a more defensive positioning,” Barbier says.

The portfolio currently holds more than 90 positions. It seeks to outperform the Euro MTS 3-5y + 1% with a target volatility of 3% to 4%.

According to Grasset, portfolio diversification, active management and flexibility in the fund’s positioning (e.g. in terms of duration and maturity) remain the main drivers of the boutique’s disciplined investment process.

Adrien Paredes-Vanheule
Adrien Paredes-Vanheule is deputy editor and French-Speaking Europe Correspondent for InvestmentEurope, covering France, Belgium, Geneva and Monaco. Prior to joining InvestmentEurope, he spent almost five years writing for various publications in Monaco, primarily as a criminal and financial court reporter. Before that, he worked for newspapers and radio stations in France, in particular in Lyon.

Read more from Adrien Paredes-Vanheule

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