Andrew Formica is to make a surprise return to the front ranks of UK fund management when he takes the reins of Jupiter from chief executive Maarten Slendebroek in March.
Slendebroek had led Jupiter since 2014. Formica (pictured), former head of Henderson, departed the merged Janus Henderson group last summer as the business put former Janus boss Dick Weil in sole charge.
In a statement, Jupiter noted that it had expected to handover management ‘over the next couple of years’ but that the current availability of Formica caused it ‘to accelerate these plans’.
Formica said: ‘Jupiter is a tremendous firm and I have been very impressed by its talented people and distinct investment culture. I am excited by the firm's successful diversification strategy and look forward to helping it develop its increasingly global franchise.
‘Jupiter's relentless focus on delivering value to clients through genuinely active investing means it is well positioned to succeed in an evolving industry.’
Slendebroek had overseen a rapid diversificiation of fund strategies at the traditionally equity-focused business, growing assets from £31 billion in late 2013 to £42.6 billion, as well as completing a big overhaul of its distribution.
Nonetheless, the house has been at the sharp end of the downturn in equity markets over the last year, with its shares near halving over the last year from 587p to 325p, versus a 10.4% fall on the FTSE 350 Financials index.
At the market open shares in Jupiter were 0.9% lower, at 325.8p.
The house has seen assets drop almost a fifth in the last year from a peak at above £50 billion, and in common with the rest of the sector, been squeezed from the other end by rising compliance costs.
Jupiter chair Liz Airey said: ‘On behalf of the board, I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Maarten and pay tribute to his significant achievements for this firm, especially following his appointment as chief executive in 2014.
‘Maarten was the driving force behind our successful diversification strategy which has taken this firm to a new level, growing substantially from a predominantly UK-focused equities business to one that is today broadly diversified by asset class, geography and channel.
‘We are delighted to have secured someone of Andrew's calibre to succeed Maarten and are particularly appreciative of Maarten agreeing to step down early and remain for a handover period to work with Andrew to ensure a smooth transition.’
Formica had a reputation as an astute dealmaker even before he negotiated one of the largest asset management mergers in history in the trans-Atlantic union of the UK/Australian Henderson with the US Janus.
The priority that the group gave to his appointment may generate some speculation that Jupiter, which since a management buyout a decade ago has eschewed purchased growth, many be considering alternative ways to scale.
Slendebroek will stay on with the business in a handover period until May. He said: ‘It has been a privilege to lead Jupiter over the last five years and the company has gone from strength to strength as we have delivered against our strategic ambitions.
‘Much has been achieved and so this is the right time for me to hand over. The business is in excellent health and I wish my colleagues every success for the future and look forward to working with Andrew on the transition of responsibilities.’
Reiterating his buy guidance, Shore Capital analyst Paul McGinnis said he expected investors to view Formica as one of the safest possible picks.
'We would expect this news to be positively received by investors, with many industry observers surprised that Mr Formica lost out when Janus Henderson moved from the joint CEO structure it established the time of the merger (which has struggled operationally),' he wrote.