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Somerset hires replacement manager for UBS Asia-Pacific mandate

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Somerset’s local authority scheme has appointed a new manager to a £40m (€50.1m) Asia-Pacific equity mandate, over a year after former manager UBS Global Asset Management was let go.

Mirabella Financial Services beat five other applicants and was awarded the contract last month, following on from a tender by the £1.2bn Somerset County Council Pension Fund in April 2013.

However, the mandate will be run by Sydney-based Maple-Brown Abbott, with Mirabella acting as intermediary as the Australian manager is not registered with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

UBS lost the contract as Somerset was unhappy with its performance, Anton Sweet, funds and investment manager at Somerset County Council told IPE.

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According to the fund’s accounts for the 2012-13 financial year, the manager returned 17.5%, 2.5 percentage points short of the benchmark.

UBS was meant to outperform the FTSE All-World Developed Asia Pacific ex-Japan index by 1.5% over a three-year period. The mandate’s three-year annualised return was 2.2 percentage points below benchmark, with a 0.9 percentage point shortfall over a five-year period.

Sweet said that UBS’s mandate, which had been in place since 2004, was terminated at the beginning of April 2013, with the mandate run by the fund’s in-house staff on a passive basis since then.

“We were doing that as an interim measure,” he added. “We run other passive funds all the time, have done for years.

“But when we remove an equity manager, we usually feel much better to remove them straight away, rather than have them on care and maintenance for a year or so while run the tender process.”

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