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May 22, 2014 2:07 am
Philip Gibbs, a former top fund manager at Jupiter Fund Management, launched an attack on the company in a rare public outburst at its annual meeting on Wednesday.
The gathering, held at the Caledonian Club in Belgravia, provided a glimpse into the pressures of being a fund manager as Mr Gibbs criticised the group for the way he was treated during an unusual period of underperformance.
He said the board had failed to apologise for his treatment and added that John Chatfeild-Roberts, chief investment officer, should step down from a management role and focus on running money.
Mr Gibbs was one of Jupiter’s three biggest shareholders at the time of its initial public offering four years ago, with a stake of £26.5m, just above then chief executive Edward Bonham Carter’s £26.4m stake.
He is known for his obsessive eye for detail. His bearish stance in 2008 led his Jupiter Financial Opportunities Fund to a gain of 7.3 per cent during the height of the financial crisis, a year that the FTSE Financials Index lost 48 per cent.
Overall, the financials fund gained 779 per cent during Mr Gibbs’ tenure as lead manager, between June 1997 and December 2010, substantially outperforming the FTSE Financials Index’s gain of 53 per cent, according to Financial Express.
However, Mr Gibbs underperformed his fund’s benchmark slightly during 2011 and 2012, and he retired in August last year.
Mr Gibbs said on Wednesday that he was “shocked” by the way that he was treated by management from 2011, which left him “depressed” and barely able to “bring myself to go into Jupiter’s offices”.
He said he wanted to use the annual meeting to highlight the “failure of the board to apologise for the way I was treated”, despite Jupiter chief executive Maarten Slendebroek privately sympathising with him.
During 2011, when his performance was struggling, Mr Gibbs said that he was told by Mr Chatfeild-Roberts that he was “lucky to have a job at Jupiter”.
Mr Gibbs said that the company told him he could not trade stocks using telephone or email when he was out of the office, and he had to trade via a PC. It is standard practice at fund managers to centralise trading because it allows the firms’ compliance teams to monitor portfolio manager activity.
Jamie Dundas, Jupiter chairman, said at the meeting that Mr Gibbs had voiced these points before to him and other board members. He said: “I hear what you say in relation to our chief investment officer role. It’s for us to decide. I won’t go into more detail.”
Mr Gibbs also said that he had “compliance issues” with Jupiter’s voting policy because he believed that the company had told fund managers how to vote on a particular company, rather than giving them full autonomy on the vote. He said this went against Jupiter’s corporate governance policy.
Adrian Creedy, Jupiter chief operating officer, said that the issue “doesn’t fall within the scope of this meeting”.
Mr Gibbs left the afternoon meeting early, saying: “Over and out, good night, thank you very much.”
All resolutions were passed with more than 96 per cent support.
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