Gartmore shares plummet as star managers leave

Image caption,
City fund manager Gartmore is reviewing its options for the future

An exodus of key staff at the fund manager Gartmore has led to a major share sell-off.

Gartmore shares plummeted by as much as 21% after announcing a strategic review at the same time as announcing the departure of two star managers.

The company has lost several high-profile members of staff since its listing on the London Stock Exchange in December last year.

Gartmore has appointed Goldman Sachs to review the company's options.

Roger Guy, who runs Gartmore's flagship European Large Cap fund management team, is retiring after 17 years at the company.

And chief investment officer Dominic Rossi is to move to the rival firm Fidelity.

In a conference call chief executive Jeffrey Meyer told journalists that 2010 had been "a difficult year".

He went on to say that the firm was "beginning to have discussions with other firms... to see whether a business combination is in the best interest of our clients and our shareholders".

Staff troubles

The departure of Robert Guy is the latest in a number of high profile exits from Gartmore.

It was reported that he was unhappy with the handling of an internal investigation into a former colleague, Guillaume Rambourg, who was accused of breaking internal rules in March.

The company's shares fell by 11% when Mr Rambourg, who used to run a third of Gartmore's assets, was suspended.

At the time Mr Guy confirmed his commitment to the company.

But investor confidence in Gartmore has taken a battering.

In May, Gartmore revealed that more than £1bn was withdrawn in the wake of Mr Rambourg's suspension.

In September, another manager quit when Gervais Williams, who ran the growth opportunities fund, stepped down.

Gartmore had more than £20bn under management in the three months to September after a strong spell for global share markets, but the company's asset base has continued to be eroded by investor withdrawals.

Estimates for October from Gartmore show a net outflow of £281m and more money is set to leave the company.

The firm has received notice of approximately £500m of investments to be redeemed by the year end.

As part of the review, Gartmore is to embark on a £10m cost-cutting programme and is introducing a share-based incentive scheme for certain key staff.

The firm employs about 350 people and has offices in London, Boston and Tokyo.

Gartmore shares ended the day 15.01% lower.

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