An Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based global equity manager that has raised roughly A$4 billion (US$4.05 billion) in Australia since 2006, without any local marketing presence, faces review from its Australian supporters following the departure of key investment personnel.
Stephen Barrow, chief investment officer and founder of IronBridge Capital Management's global focus strategy, as well as Peter Rutter and James Clarke, portfolio managers on the strategy, left the firm earlier this year.
IronBridge has enjoyed an enviable run of success since Queensland Investment Corp. seeded its global equity strategy in 2006.
The fundamental manager — whose president, Chris Faber, and other personnel invented a valuation model known as cashflow return on investment — had until then run only U.S. small-cap and smidcap strategies. The global focus strategy has since become by far its biggest source of assets under management, at nearly US$6 billion at the end of last year, much of it raised from Australian investors. IronBridge describes the global focus strategy as “a core portfolio of approximately 50 large-cap companies diversified across country, industry and life cycle.”
The Future Fund wrote it an A$1 billion-plus ticket, while clients of consultant JANA — such as HostPlus, Telstra Super, Maritime Super, Health Super and AustSafe Super — also have awarded it sizable mandates.
However, all that success is now under threat following the departure of Messrs. Barrow, Rutter and Clarke.
All three were based in IronBridge's London office and had previously worked together at Deutsche Asset Management. Some observers expect that Mr. Barrow will start a new shop with Messrs. Rutter and Clarke.
Glenn Davis, CIO of Maritime Super, Sydney, said he was waiting to get a report from JANA before deciding on a course of action. He said he understood that the three had been replaced with “high-caliber people.”
It is understood other Australian clients have a similar “watch and see” position.
David Holston, JANA consulting director, was unavailable for immediate comment.
Michael Bailey is editor of I&T News , Sydney.