UK – The Essex County Council Pension Fund has awarded a £45m (€66.5m) active equity mandate to Martin Currie Investment Management.

Martin Quinn, head of investments at the Essex County Council Pension Superannuation Fund, told IPE that the change of manager has come after “key staff” left Investec Asset Management last July.

The scheme, worth more than £2bn, withdrew the investment after the departure of Michael Rimmer, Jeremy Rigg, Nick Mottram, Chris Carter and Nigel Dutson. They were involved in the Investec 4 Factor equity product.

“We felt that we could not guarantee that the products that we had bought would still be there. So we took the money back,” Quinn explained.

The scheme, assisted by Hymans Robertson, started selecting new managers in August. This involved interviewing four managers, including Martin Currie.

“We were impressed by Martin Currie’s ownership, investment process, presentation and track record,” Quinn was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Martin Currie.

Martin Currie said the new mandates put the value of assets under management of Jeff Saunders and his UK Growth team at Martin Currie to over £1bn.

Allan MacLeod, head of sales at Martin Currie, said he was “delighted”.

“Essex County Council and their advisers were looking for experienced stock-pickers with proven performance and a robust investment process,” MacLeod continued.

The pension scheme invests in UK and overseas equities, property, index linked gilts and fixed interest. Its funding ratio, according to its funding strategy statement, is 71%.

Quinn said the pension fund is currently reviewing a bond brief and will shortly announce an appointment. It would probably be a global bond mandate, although the benchmark was still being discussed.