EUROPE – The founder and chief executive of KBC Asset Management, Gavin Caldwell, is to retire and be replaced by Sean Hawkshaw.

“The board and management of KBC Asset Management Ltd. has accepted with regret the decision by Gavin Caldwell, its founder and CEO, to retire,” the group said in a statement.

Caldwell ran the company since 1980 when he set up Ulster Bank Investment Managers, which was subsequently bought by Belgium’s KBC in 2000. At the time Caldwell said he would stay for a three-year transition period.

KBC said that Sean Hawkshaw will take over as CEO. Caldwell said: “I have decided that the time has come to seek some new challenges. There have been many radical changes in the asset management industry over the last couple of years and I have increasingly been drawn away from the core investment and development side of the business, which I like most.”

KBC says it aims to develop its Dublin business as a centre of excellence for active portfolio management.

“I am happy in the knowledge that I am leaving the business I founded in safe hands for the future,” Caldwell said.