Argonaut set to break away from Ignis

Argonaut Capital Partners is set to become independent from Ignis Asset Management, following in the footsteps of previous joint venture boutique Hexam which split off last year.

It is understood that Ignis will retain a financial interest in the European equity-focused boutique, as it did with Hexam. Currently, the business is structured as a 50/50 joint venture between the managers and Ignis.

Portfolio managers Barry Norris(pictured) and Olly Russ will continue to head up the Argonaut funds – consisting of European Alpha, European Absolute Return, European Enhanced Income and European Income – and are expected to hire staff to take responsibility for the boutique’s distribution and back office operations.

Within the range, the £326m European Alpha fund is one of the top performing offerings, returning 20.6% to investors over three years compared to the IMA Europe ex UK average of 1.7% (to 5 August, according to Morningstar).

Ignis’ chief executive Chris Samuel has previously said the group would not establish any new joint venture boutiques but wanted to focus on its core offering. The group’s internal range of funds is in the process of being revamped under chief investment officer Mark Lovett.

The Emerging Markets Select Value fund moved to invest in futures and index trackers while the American Growth fund was converted into a best ideas mandate. Mark Holden also joined to take over the management of the UK Focus fund.

Ignis launched Argonaut, its first joint venture boutique, with former Neptune managers Norris and Russ in 2005, when it was known as Britannic Asset Management. The JVs were an initiative spearheaded by former sales and marketing director Jonathan Polin, who left the group in June and is joining Ashcourt Rowan as group chief executive in September.

In 2006, Hexam, an emerging markets boutique, was launched with former Barings managers including Bryan Collings. In 2010, Collings and his team moved independent from Ignis after raising £1bn in assets under management. Ignis, which rebranded from Resolution in 2008, still retains a 35% financial interest in the company.


This article first appeared in Investment Week.

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