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IPE special report May 2018

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Activist asset management can 'create alpha', says RWC

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Activism is essentially about being an alpha creator, according to investment manager RWC.

But to date, activist funds are more widespread in the US.

RWC chief executive Dan Mannix said: “In Europe, there is a lack of fund managers who do this well. In addition, there is a lack of capital support from European institutions.”

However, Mannix said that, thanks to recommendations – for example, those coming from the UK’s Kay review – there is an increasing belief that fund managers have a duty to be good stewards and engage with the companies they invest in, increasing the interest in pure play activist managers.

He told IPE: “The regulatory uncertainties relating to, for example, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, have left European investors hesitant to look to alternative strategies. But we believe that will change.

”Activist strategies are expensive strategies to run. However, the value proposition is higher due to the creation of alpha.”

Mannix admits activism has historically had some negative connotations, as a result of the aggressive tactics of some investors, particularly in the US, where the market dynamics are supportive of more explicitly aggressive behaviour.

He believes that, in Europe, activist fund managers generally only get things done when they have a positive relationship with corporate management.

He added: “It is different in the European market. There, we have to have empathy with the local market dynamics that are varied across the different countries.”

RWC took over the Focus Funds from Hermes in 2012. It has three strategies – Japan, UK only and pan-Europe.

Mannix said: “We saw the opportunity to reposition the focus funds in the minds of investors and have seen significant inflows into the European strategy since the teams joined us.”

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