BOSTON - Don't expect a clone of Baring Asset Management Inc. when Santander Global Partners opens its Boston office Sept. 1.
So says Philip L. Bullen, a managing partner of the new international money management services company.
Mr. Bullen, a former Baring executive, promises Santander Global will have at least as many differences with Baring as similarities.
Mr. Bullen, who had been president and chief executive officer of Baring's North America unit, was one of the key executives who quit Baring in May. They formed Santander Global, whose London office is already up and running.
Besides Mr. Bullen, those leaving Baring Asset were Kathryn Matthews, who had been in Baring's London office; Peter Hartley, who had retired from Baring in Boston; and Christopher Goudie, who had been a Baring portfolio manager in Boston. Messrs. Bullen and Hartley and Ms. Matthews became managing partners in the new firm, said Mr. Bullen.
To some observers, BAM's growth prospects dimmed, at least for a while, after the 1995 trading scandal involving Baring Securities. But that was not a reason Mr. Bullen cited for his and his colleagues' departure from Baring. Instead, he cited such attractions to his new firm as: more operating autonomy; significant asset and financial support from parent Banco Santander; and compensation that includes equity stakes for its key principals.
With the coming of the ex-Baring team, Banco Santander created a separate asset management business and decided over time to consolidate its existing asset management activities - including its 10 asset management offices in Europe and in the Americas - under the new Santander Global. Mr. Bullen and Ms. Matthews will be in charge of the investment process.
The new firm will provide international investing for institutions and for retail clients of the Madrid-based Banco Santander.
The new firm will be a value investor, with a top-down and bottom-up approach. In its stock selection, it will hone a universe of more than 3,000 stocks worldwide to a collection of 150 that its analysts and portfolio managers will scrutinize, looking for "low-priced shares with expected positive earnings revisions," said Mr. Bullen.
He said this approach will distance Santander from BAM. According to Mr. Bullen, the latter has a top-down emphasis, focuses on growth stocks and is less quantitative than Santander Global expects to be.
Santander will offer management of international equities, international/global bonds, emerging markets equities and emerging markets bonds.
Given Santander's strong banking and asset management presence in Latin America, Mr. Bullen expects that the firm will attract emerging markets investors. But another of its fortes will be one that Baring has been known for -active/passive management of international equities - where managers actively select country markets, but passively choose the stocks in them.
Some of the new firm's offerings will be familiar to customers of Baring Asset. "Baring has been good at country and currency selection. Those same four [who came to Santander from Baring] had been very involved in those processes," Mr. Bullen said.
A spokesman for Baring in Boston had no comment.
Unlike the "wishy-washy" descriptions British firms often provide about their processes, "we'll be able to state clearly where we are adding value, and by whom, and be able to minimize our weaknesses while we play off our strengths," Mr. Bullen said. "We believe good performance is not enough. To us, a firm's investment philosophy also must be clearly measurable and transparent."
Strictly speaking, Santander Global won't be a start-up. Beginning in about the fourth quarter, it will be managing more than $600 million of international mandates from retail customers of Banco Santander. And it will oversee the management of another $40 billion of retail money managed in existing offices of parent Banco Santander.
However, the new firm will also target institutional clients, specifically in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Over time, Santander Global expects to unify the disparate asset management offices of Banco Santander. Currently, the bank's main asset management offices, in order of size of assets under management, are in Spain, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Portugal. But these offices largely target their domestic market. Over the next two years, the Boston and London offices of Santander Global will gradually begin to unify these offices in terms of their investment approach and resources sharing.
From this will come one investment process worldwide, which Mr. Bullen and Ms. Matthews will oversee, and a common "Santander view of whatever market or stock we're talking about," said Mr. Bullen.
But does the marketplace need a new international management firm? To Mr. Bullen, there is ample room left for a new entry - especially one known for its expertise in Latin America.