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Argonaut Barry Norris

Barry Norris assumes full ownership of Argonaut Capital


Argonaut Capital founder Barry Norris (pictured) has assumed full ownership of the specialist European equity asset manager, subject to completion via a scheme of arrangement and regulatory approval.

Formed as a joint venture between the Argonaut founders and Britannic Asset Management (later known as Resolution then Ignis) in 2005, a passive minority stake in Argonaut was retained by Standard Life Investments following its acquisition of Ignis in 2014. Following completion of the deal, both SLI and Oliver Russ will exit the business.

Norris says Argonaut will flourish as a fully independent business, with the firm’s strong long-term track record built upon its distinct ‘earnings surprise’ investment process.

“This ownership agreement demonstrates my belief in Argonaut and my long term personal commitment to the business, our people and our unitholders,” Norris says. “Our passion and conviction in our investment process and our ability to meet our clients’ needs has been and will continue to be the central driver of Argonaut’s success.”

Today’s agreement also provides an opportunity for Argonaut to focus on the fast-growing core of its business, its top-performing European Alpha, pan-European Alpha and Absolute Return franchises – which now constitute more than GBP1.1 billion of assets under management. Accordingly, Liontrust has agreed to acquire Argonaut’s GBP169 million European Income and GBP131 million Enhanced Income funds, with manager Oliver Russ moving to the group.

In addition, Argonaut Capital is pleased to announce the further strengthening of its corporate governance, with the appointment of Sanlam CEO Jonathan Polin as Chairman. Polin played an instrumental role in founding Argonaut alongside Norris while at Britannic.

“I have a long association with Argonaut and am extremely pleased to witness its strong growth, particularly since the business became operationally independent,” Polin says. “Argonaut’s investment process has proven the test of time and this move will allow the group to continue to invest in its investment team and distribution capabilities.”

Argonaut last year added two analysts to its investment team, which is managed by Greg Bennett. Bennett has been co-manager on the firm’s European Alpha, pan European Alpha and Absolute Return strategies alongside Norris for the last four years. Bennett says focusing on ‘earnings surprise’ investment philosophy distinguishes Argonaut from the vast majority of fund managers.

“We have broadened our investment team through recent hires and will continue to deepen our talent pool of analysts capable of identifying earnings surprise.”

The transition of Argonaut’s European Income and Enhanced Income funds is expected to be completed in early June 2016. 

“We feel it is important that our Income fund unitholders can have the opportunity to remain invested with Oliver, with minimal disruption,” Norris says. “We wish Oliver success for the future and all the best in building his income franchise on the Liontrust platform.”

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