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Allianz GI global equities boss makes surprise exit in management reshuffle

Allianz Global Investors head of global equities Lucy Macdonald has surprised fund buyers by leaving the firm after almost 20 years as part of a reshuffle of the global equity team.

Macdonald (pictured), who has been with the firm since 2001, is stepping back from her roles as portfolio manager on the Allianz GI Global High Alpha strategies and the Brunner Investment Trust, which is managed by Allianz GI.

Allianz GI said Paul Schofield will take on the lead manager role on the Global High Alpha strategies. He was previously deputy manager.

Separately, an RNS announcement from the board of the Brunner Investment Trust said Matthew Tillett will take on management of the portfolio supported by global equity managers Jeremy Kent and Marcus Morris-Eyton.

Tillett has worked closely with Macdonald on the Brunner trust for a number of years, while Kent is a long-standing member of her team and Morris-Eyton has been with Allianz GI’s European Growth team since 2011.

Brunner Investment Trust chairman Carolan Dobson said:  “We would like to thank Lucy for the huge contribution that she has made to help us get the company to where we are now.”

Will the trust board stick with Allianz GI team?

AJ Bell head of active portfolios Ryan Hughes described the team taking on the trust as “tight” as they have been heavily involved in running it for some time. But he said it will be interesting to see what the board of the trust decides in terms of future management.

“We have seen another couple of trusts make changes recently, for example where Alastair Mundy stepped down and the board put the manager Ninety One on notice, so boards are being quite active now and that’s a good thing,” he said.

“Will the board simply take the proposed new team or put that out to a wider search? I wouldn’t be surprised if they took the opportunity to look again at the wider market.”

Global equity team reshuffle sees Thorsten Winkelmann elevated

The changes are part of a reshuffle of the Allianz GI global equity franchise that sees Thorsten Winkelmann become chief investment officer of a new 17-person Global Growth team, combining the Global Equity and European Growth teams.

Winkelmann will lead the team alongside Christian Schneider as deputy CIO. The team will look after almost €25bn (£22bn) in assets.

Hughes said Macdonald leaving the firm came as a “surprise” given his team had met with her at the start of the year. But he added Winkelmann was a well-known name across Europe and had done a good job on the European Growth strategy.

“He hasn’t become a big name in the UK but performance is good and it is probably one of their better strategies,” he added.

“It’s a €5bn fund and if you look at the franchise it is very strong, but has not been a huge money-taker over the past couple of years.”

UK has been buoyed by Mike Riddell fund

It comes after Allianz GI defied the Covid-19 outbreak to post its best ever quarterly sales figures for UK-domiciled funds thanks largely to Mike Riddell’s Strategic Bond fund, according to the latest Pridham Report.

> See also: Allianz GI sales ride to highest quarterly level due to Mike Riddell fund

But on Tuesday Allianz GI reported overall €3.4bn was withdrawn in the first quarter, taking assets under management to €510bn. It recorded net inflows in alternative and equity products, net outflows from multi-asset and fixed income.

Hughes said: “What Allianz has shown in the UK is if you get a fund in the sweet spot with something like Strategic Bond you’re able to sell a lot of it but the trouble they have had in the UK with Europe is that everyone has such a low allocation to Europe that they’ve not had the opportunity to really sell it.”

GDIM investment manager Tom Sparke said Allianz GI has some enormous funds so a loss of €3bn should be put into context.

“Their top three funds by size make-up nearly £30bn and their biggest fund alone shed around $5bn in the first quarter in terms of total AUM,” he added. “The Strategic Bond fund has grown very rapidly due to its extraordinary performance.”

Sebastian Cheek

Sebastian joined Last Word Media in 2017 as editor of Portfolio Adviser. He previously spent 10 years as a journalist and editor in the UK institutional investment sector, most recently as editor...

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