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UK roundup: Threadneedle, Columbia, State Street

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Threadneedle Investments is set to rebrand its organisation in the coming months to strengthen ties with its US affiliate, Columbia Management.

According to Threadneedle, the new brand, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, will allow the companies to take a larger share of growth in the asset management industry, while offering clients access to both organisations.

Both managers are currently owned by Ameriprise Financial.

It is also expected to allow the firms to strengthen business models in the Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East.

The pair have around $505bn (€427bn) in assets under management (AUM), with the US-based Columbia accounting for around 70% of assets.

Despite the new brand, the company said the investment strategies, philosophies and processes of both firms would not change.

Threadneedle chief executive Campbell Fleming said: “Under the new brand, we become a global group, presenting our combined resources, investment perspectives and expertise.”

Elsewhere, UK defined benefit (DB) pension fund investments returned an average of 11% over the course of 2014, according to State Street Investment Analytics (SSIA).

It said this was the third consecutive year of strong investment results for DB schemes, but the latest set of results saw greater focus on fixed income holdings.

“In the two preceding years, a high equity allocation was beneficial, but in 2014, it was funds that held a relatively high proportion of their investments in bonds that will have performed best,” SSIA said.

Average exposure to equities fell to 43%, while SSIA said bond markets went from steadily positive performance to surging in August, as the Bank of England committed to low interest rates.

UK index-linked bonds returned 20%, despite falling inflation, while UK Gilts also provided a boost, with the average fund returning 18%.

“This reflects the relatively high weighting amongst pension funds of longer-dated Gilts,” SSIA said.

“The FTSE 15 Year Index returned a remarkable 26%. While the strong results from bonds were positive for the asset valuations of pension funds, they had the opposite effect on the liabilities, as yields fell by almost a third from this time last year.”

UK equities returned just over 1% over 2014 after a late rally in values, with European equities providing flat returns.

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