Old Mutual Global Investors (OMGI) is to hand over the mandate of departing China fund manager Diamond Lee to its head of Asian equities Josh Crabb.
In a statement issued by the firm, part of Old Mutual Wealth, said that Lee, who has been with the firm for just two years, has decided to leave to pursue a career outside of asset management.
Lee, a well-known Asian fund manager, leaves OMGI almost exactly two years after joining the firm from Ignis Asset Management. Lee leaves the industry after 26 years of investment experience, having begun his career in 1990 with KPMG. He was originally brought on board as part of the asset management firm’s plans to bolster its Asian equity business and manage the Old Mutual China Equity fund.
This Dublin-domiciled fund formally focused on Greater China but was brought in-house from Mestiq Capital to be handed to Lee. However, following Lee’s surprise move, management of the Dublin-domiciled fund has now fallen to Josh Crabb, head of Asian equities at the firm.
Crabb has been managing Asian equity funds for over 15 years, including roles at BlackRock and Prudential Asset Management. His existing OMGI portfolios have a high exposure to Chinese equities and OMGI said that he is very familiar with the Chinese macroeconomic environment, having been based in Hong Kong since 2001.
Fund objective unchanged
The objective of the fund is unchanged and it will continue to be run as a concentrated portfolio, with a focus on high quality stock-selection. The Asian equities team, who have always worked closely with Lee to research and develop thematic ideas, remain in place.
The departure of Lee marks the second high-profile former Ignis manager to join OMGI and leave shortly after. Russ Oxley also left OMGI, earlier this year in a dispute over the direction of the absolute return government bond team, less than two years after joining. He had served as head of fixed income – absolute return during his tenure.
OMGI said that it intended to remain focused on growing its presence in Asia, including growing assets in the Asian equity funds and pointed to recent Asian hires of Rob Weatherston, Japanese equity manager and Gerard Clancy, head of sales for Singapore as proof of its commitment to the region.
‘Further top class talent’
It also added that the team will look to add “further top-class talent” if the opportunity arises, which may potentially include recruiting another Chinese equity specialist.
“Diamond [Lee] has been a fantastic colleague and I have enjoyed working with him for the last 18 months at OMGI,” said Crabb. “We will continue to operate a team-based approach to idea-generation for the fund. I believe that we are entering an exciting time for Asian equities, which have been out of favour and under-owned for the last few years.
“China is currently undergoing a series of structural reforms as it moves from a manufacturing to service-led economy and we believe this transition presents a number of interesting investment opportunities, he added”
Lee said that he “immensely enjoyed” working at OMGI and help set up the business’s first fund management team outside of the UK. However, after over 20 years in the industry, he said that “I feel that now is the right time to move on and try something new”.