ARGONAUT DECLARES ITS INTENT AS IT PREPARES FOR INDEPENDENCE

John Lester appointed to head new Distribution team / new OEIC funds structure introduced

The Argonaut Partnership increased their stake in Argonaut Capital Partners (‘Argonaut’) to 60% in August 2011, with Ignis becoming a 40% minority shareholder.  The Company, which will become operationally independent of Ignis on 14th July, has significantly increased its internal resource over the course of the last year, appointing Edward James as its Chief Operating Officer to oversee the transition out of Ignis and the day-to-day operations of the business, and Greg Bennett as a senior fund manager in January.  Underlining its newfound independence, and in a clear statement of intent, the Company today confirmed the appointment of the widely respected John Lester as Head of Distribution, and as a Partner in the business.Argonaut Barry Norris

Lester joins Argonaut from Neptune Investment Management, where he was Head of Strategic Partnerships, and brings with him key members of his former Neptune team – Manager: UK Strategic Partners, Dennis Pellerito and Broker Sales Executive, Andy Nickson.  The newly appointed Sales and Marketing team will enable Argonaut to communicate directly with its fund investors and to focus its distribution efforts in the most appropriate markets and amongst the most appropriate clients.

Argonaut, which manages circa €1bn, also confirmed the reconstruction of its fund range.  The firm’s four Unit Trusts will convert to an OEIC on 14th July, with overseas registration facilitating wider European and international distribution.  The OEIC will be operated by IFDS Managers as Authorised Corporate Director (ACD) and will be administered by IFDS, one of the UK’s leading fund administrators.  The funds will cease to be dual-banded with ‘Ignis’ and will be called:

•    IM Argonaut European Alpha Fund
•    IM Argonaut European Income Fund
•    IM Argonaut European Enhanced Income Fund, and
•    IM Argonaut European Absolute Return Fund

Commenting on developments, Founding Partner and Chief Investment Officer, Barry Norris said:
“Since Argonaut Capital Partners was founded in 2005 we, with the help of our partners at Ignis, have built a highly successful investment boutique, focused on European equities.  We are now moving away from the previous joint venture structure and taking on responsibility for functions which were previously outsourced to Ignis.  We have partnered with IFDS, one of the UK’s leading fund administrators, to deliver a first class back office function – and with the appointment of our new team, can now build our own independent Sales and Marketing infrastructure.  In doing so, we firmly believe that we will create an even more compelling proposition for our clients.”

Founding Partner, Olly Russ echoed his colleague’s sentiments:
“As Head of Strategic Partners with Neptune, John Lester built one of the industry’s most effective sales teams.  We have known John for many years and have watched his reputation grow, so we could not be more pleased that he and key members of his team have joined us for the next leg of our journey.  Like Barry, I am confident that our investors will reap significant benefits from the focus of an independent management team, and the ability of Argonaut to directly service the needs of its client base.  Edward has done a great job managing the transition programme over the course of the last year, and with the quality of the management team we have now put in place, we can look forward to the future development of the business with great confidence.”

Lester is understandably excited about the challenge ahead: 
“With Neptune I had the opportunity to build a highly successful Strategic Partners team.  That team made a significant contribution to the growth and profitability of the firm over a period of some six and a half years, and in that time I learned much about boutique investing – what clients expect from a boutique investment provider, and just as importantly, what they do not.  It was an important period in my career, enlightening, and we had a lot of fun, but it was time to move on.

“Barry and Olly are just under 40 years of age, yet they have amassed 26 years’ combined experience and boast a demonstrable track record.  Barry has outperformed the market in eight of the last nine years, and with Olly pioneered the concept of a European income fund.  The guys are highly regarded by analysts and intermediaries alike, and exhibit a tremendous passion for the business of managing money.  It was clear to me from the outset that our views regarding the value and positioning of boutique fund management were completely aligned.  I am inspired by the potential for Argonaut and the ways in which we might grow the business together in true partnership over the next 15 to 20 years – and I am delighted that Dennis Pellerito and Andy Nickson share that vision and have elected to join us for this exciting stage in Argonaut’s development.”

Lester is particularly excited that the Company will now have control of its own manufacturing and distribution functionality.  “The founding Partners have always controlled the investment process.  That has proven to be successful, and is I believe eminently scalable.  We have a duty and an obligation to our clients, who have entrusted us with their hard-earned savings, to continually and critically assess the relevance of our fund range.  By listening to and responding to  our client’s needs we aim to make the most of our proven skills in high conviction equity management, and create appropriate solutions for financial advisers, discretionary and institutional investors alike.  We are open for business and are ready for that challenge.”

For further information regarding / to speak with Argonaut, please contact:
Gordon Puckey
Phoenix Financial PR
Tel: 0207 947 2856 / 07799 767 468
[email protected]

1. About Argonaut Capital Partners (‘Argonaut’ or the ‘Company’)
High Alpha boutique Argonaut has established a formidable reputation and a proven track record as a specialist in managing European equities.  The Company was established in May 2005 as a 50/50 joint venture between Ignis Asset Management and fund managers Barry Norris and Oliver Russ – the Argonaut Partnership stake in Argonaut Capital Partners increasing to 60% in August 2011, with Ignis today a 40% minority shareholder.  The Company offers a comprehensive suite of market-leading Alpha and Income products, and manages assets in the region of €1bn on behalf of both retail and institutional clients.

Argonaut manages six funds: the Argonaut European Alpha Fund, Argonaut European Income Fund, Argonaut European Enhanced Income Fund, Argonaut European Absolute Return Fund and two Dublin domiciled Pan European SICAVs.  Argonaut also manages European segregated portfolios on behalf of institutional clients.

Argonaut managers are unconstrained free-thinking stock-pickers.  Deploying the Company’s proprietary analytical tools and research in their search for outstanding European investment opportunities, they have delivered compelling and consistent investment returns.

2. Biographies

Barry Norris – Chief Investment Officer, Founding Partner and Fund Manager
Barry co-founded Argonaut and is the lead manager of the Argonaut European Alpha Fund, the Argonaut European Absolute Return Fund and a Pan-European Alpha ICVC.

Barry trained as an Investment Analyst with Baillie Gifford, and started running money as Head of European Equities with Neptune Investment Management, managing the firm’s European Opportunities Fund from launch in November 2002 until May 2005.  The Fund was the top-performing Europe (ex-UK) unit trust in 2004.*  (*Source: Lipper, bid to bid, net income reinvested 31 December 2003 – 31 December 2004).

He graduated from Cambridge University with an MA in History in 1996, and in 1997 with an MPhil in International Relations.  Barry holds the CFA charter.

Oliver (‘Olly’) Russ – Founding Partner and Fund Manager
Olly co-founded Argonaut and is the lead manager of the Argonaut European Equity Income Fund and the Argonaut European Enhanced Income Fund.

Olly joined investment boutique Orbitex in 1998; he worked on the firm’s European Equity and Income products and managed the Orbitex UK Equity Fund from inception in March 2000.  In 2002 Olly moved to Invicta Investment Management, a privately owned hedge fund, and in April 2004 he joined Neptune Investment Management as a Fund Manager and Financial Analyst.

Olly graduated from Oxford University in 1996 with a 1st in Classics.  He holds the CFA charter, has completed the IIMR examinations and is a Fellow of the Securities Institute.

Greg Bennett – Fund Manager
Greg has 10 years fund management experience, primarily in the UK equity market, but also in the US market.  He began his investment career with Neptune Investment Management in 2002, and managed the US Opportunities Fund and the UK Equity Fund for a period of his tenure with the firm.  Greg was also Assistant Fund Manager on the firm’s Income Fund and its Global Equity Fund.  In 2006 he joined Marlborough Fund Managers, where he set up and ran the firm’s UK Large Cap Fund and the UK Income Fund.  He joined Argonaut in 2012.

Greg graduated from the University of Natal (South Africa) in 1994 with a BSc. Agricultural Economics.  He holds the CFA charter.

Edward James – Chief Operating Officer
Edward James has 15 years experience in the fund management industry.  As Head of Operations at Octopus Investments, Edward enabled significant growth in both group profits and funds under management and was instrumental in the set-up of the operating model to allow the funds business to grow from two to 13 funds.

He was previously with Euroclear, facilitating the firm’s expansion into the UK fund processing model and managing the purchase of EMXCo – and at Gerrard Asset Management, where he was part of the management team responsible for restructuring the business, enabling its sale to Barclays Wealth.

John Lester – Partner and Head of Distribution
John joins Argonaut having spent the past six and a half years at Neptune Investment Management, building a widely respected boutique investment funds distribution team focused on Nationals, Networks and Strategic Partners in the UK and overseas.  In 2011 he took on the strategic oversight of Neptune’s European sales team.

Prior to Neptune John held the position of Associate Director, Financial Institutions at HSBC Asset Management, focusing on strategic alliances with key UK and International Life Offices.  He has held various senior sales management roles with leading financial institutions in South Africa, including mCubed and ABSA Investment Management Services (AIMS).  John has more than 17 years experience in financial services distribution.

Dennis Pellerito – Head of Intermediary Sales
Dennis joins Argonaut after five years within Neptune Investment Management’s Strategic Partners team, where he held the position of ‘Manager: UK Strategic Partners’, earning the respect of his colleagues and peers with his leadership, hard work and attention to detail.  Dennis will be responsible for sales through Intermediary, Life Company and Fund Platforms channels within the UK.  He began his career in financial services with Fidelity Investments in 2004.

Andy Nickson – Sales Support
Andy joins Argonaut having spent the past two years with Neptune Investment Management in a sales support capacity.  Having impressed his peers with his hard work and enthusiasm he was the natural choice to develop the sales support function at Argonaut.  Andy graduated from Nottingham University with a degree in Economics and is presently studying towards his IMC.

Issued by Argonaut Capital Partners LLP.  Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.  Registered in Scotland: No. SO300614.  Registered Office: 50 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 6HR.

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