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Hermes refocuses

The upheavals at UK manager Hermes, owned by the BT Pension Scheme, seem to have been resolved with the appointment of David Pitt-Watson to take over from Peter Butler after his sudden resignation.
Pitt-Watson managing director of Hermes Pensions Management’s UK Focus Fund, will take up his new job on November 11, Hermes says.
He will head up overall equity stewardship activities including Focus Funds, corporate governance and the recently launched Equity Ownership Services.
Butler, corporate focus director at Hermes Pensions Management, and Steve Brown, managing director investments at Hermes Focus Asset Management (HFAM) resigned from the firm earlier this week after a “disagreement” over ownership, governance, and long-term strategy, a spokesman told IPE.
Hermes confirms that, contrary to press speculations, the differences with Peter Butler and Steve Brown did not relate to their remuneration and they will be assisting with the handover of their responsibilities.
John Leach, a director of Hermes fund management, assumes Pitt-Watson's UK Focus Fund responsibilities as managing director, while Mike Weston, currently an executive director of Hermes Focus Asset Management, HFAM, has been named deputy managing director.
Nick Mustoe, chief investment officer of Hermes Pensions Management joins the board of HFAM and Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, HFAME, as non-executive director.
“It is proposed that Stephan Howaldt, chief executive officer of HFAME, will also joins the HFAM board as a non-executive director” Hermes says, adding: “Neither Peter nor Steve are executive directors of HFAME.”
The two managers are due to leave in early November, Hermes says, but have made no “firm plans relating to other organisations of the formation of any other funds to engage in shareholder activism,” Hermes says. “They wish to remain in the governance world.”
A spokesman told IPE it was “business as usual” despite the high-profile departures. He said the firm was speaking with clients – who he said were being “broadly supportive”.
The BT scheme thanked Butler and Brown for the “very significant contribution” they had made to Hermes’ business overall.

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