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Blackrock rearranges European equity team

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Nigel Bolton, who since 2008 has been co-manager of the BGF European Fund and the BGF European Focus Fund, will step back from portfolio manager duties, effective immediately, according to a Morningstar report.

The two funds affected are both Ucits, domiciled in Luxembourg and categorised by Morningstar as Europe large cap blend equity funds.

The European fund, which was established in November 1993 and has €1.24bn in assets under management, was co-managed by Brian Hall since 2017.

The European Focus fund, which was launched in October 2005 and has €417m in AUM, was co-managed by Simon Hunter.

New management

Blackrock said it had appointed Stefan Gries as sole portfolio manager for the BGF European and BGF European Focus strategies. Gries also manages two other European products.

Bolton will also relinquish duties as head of another product, the European Unconstrained Fund. However, he remains head of the firm’s European equity team.

“His stepping back from portfolio management will lighten the heavy workload he was carrying,” according to the Morningstar report.

His focus is now on the strategic leadership of the EMEA fundamental active equity platform, working with Becci McKinley-Rowe.

Portfolio restructure

Morningstar said Blackrock intends to eventually merge the BGF European and BGF European Focus “to be run as a single high-conviction strategy with a portfolio of 30-60 names and a tracking error between 4% and 7%.

“Over time, the portfolios of the two funds will converge and ultimately they will be identical, but Blackrock has not set a timeline for when this should be completed,” the report said.

Other changes include a reorganization of the European equity team pod structures.

“This announcement also comes after several high-profile departures in the team since 2017, which have already made us uneasy,” the report said.

Morningstar has moved the BGF European fund, along with several other European products to “under review” from its previous (forward-looking) analyst rating of Silver “until we have more clarity on this new team structure and its impact on the execution of the strategies”.

Two European funds managed by Nigel Bolton

The BGF European equity product vs its benchmark and peer category, three years

Source: FE. In euros

The BGF European Focus vs its benchmark and peer category, three years

Source: FE. In euros

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Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson is editor of Fund Selector Asia. Previously he was editor at a publication covering private equity.

Part of the Bonhill Group.