Nick C. Thakore and Robert D. Ewing will join Putnam Investments on Nov. 3 as managing directors and portfolio managers of Putnam's large-cap equities team, according to a news release issued today.
Messrs. Thakore and Ewing come to Putnam from the Boston office of RiverSource Investments, where the two each managed one-third of the $3.5 billion RiverSource Large Cap Equity fund, as well as more than $1 billion in variable annuity money; Mr. Thakore also managed the $1.8 billion RiverSource Growth fund.
The portfolios managed by Messrs. Ewing and Thakore will be reassigned to other staff, said RiverSource spokesman Ryan Lund in a statement. Details will be announced later.
Before joining RiverSource in 2002, both portfolio managers worked at Fidelity Investments, where Robert Reynolds had been serving as vice chairman and COO until June 30, 2007.
In addition to overseeing large-cap equities, which Mr. Reynolds has called a focus of his rebuilding efforts at Boston-based Putnam, the two will oversee struggling flagship funds: Mr. Thakore will become portfolio manager of the $4 billion large-cap growth equity Putnam Voyager fund, while Mr. Ewing will become portfolio manager of the Putnam Fund for Growth and Income, a $7.2 billion large-cap value equity offering.
The release said Putnam's global asset allocation team, led by Jeff Knight, which has managed the Voyager fund since January, will return to focusing on the firm's suite of asset allocation funds. Eric Harthun, who has served as portfolio leader of the Growth and Income fund for the past two years, will return "to his core expertise" on the team managing the Putnam Small-Cap Value fund.
The hires mark the second time in recent weeks that Mr. Reynolds has tapped former Fidelity colleagues to help him turn around Putnam's fortunes. On Oct. 9, Putnam announced that Jeffrey R. Carney, who had served as president of Fidelity Retirement Services, would join Putnam Oct. 27 as a senior managing director and head of global marketing and products.
At RiverSource, Messrs. Thakore and Ewing have trailed their benchmarks in recent years. The Large-cap Equity fund, which both veterans have overseen, trailed Morningstars large blend category by roughly two percentage points on an annualized basis for the three- and five-year period, while the RiverSource Growth fund overseen by Mr. Thakore has trailed its large-cap growth benchmark by 1.7 to three percentage points annually over the same period. In an interview, Mr. Thakore said performance tallied at Fidelity and the initial five years with RiverSource paints a very positive picture, but the past year or so when value investing worked poorly have skewed those results.
Still, Mr. Thakore said Mr. Reynolds clearly believes in our process, and with the right team and resources we can deliver fantastic results. He said they were excited to rejoin Mr. Reynolds at a firm that is clearly committed to investing in the business during a rocky period for the broader industry.