* Adds stock-picking expertise to colleague's macro stance
* Sees good opportunities in U.S. and emerging markets
By Raji Menon
LONDON, June 15 The last time Guy de Blonay was
readying for an IPO, he was one of the high-profile pin-ups
around whom New Star Asset Management built its marketing
campaign to retail investors for its share offering in 2005.
Now, the Swiss-born manager is hoping he can bring some of
the excitable spirit of his brash former employer to Jupiter
Asset Management, as the firm prepares to test investor appetite
for an IPO which could value it at up to 748 million pounds
($1.2 billion). [ID:nLDE65E0VD]
De Blonay was hired in October last year to co-manage one of
Britain's most successful financial sector funds -- the 1.2
billion pound Jupiter Financial Opportunities Fund -- alongside
Philip Gibbs. [ID:nLI73781]
Under the stewardship of Gibbs, the fund LP60010210 was
one of the only financial funds to turn a profit during the
financial crisis. It has returned 792 percent since launch in
June 1997, according to Lipper data. [ID:nLDE60B26R]
Financial advisers are watching to see how the two stars,
with their differing investment styles, work together. De Blonay
said he would add his stock picking expertise and enthusiasm to
Gibbs's ability to pinpoint broader macro-economic trends.
"Maybe it is true that I am more aggressive and during more
favourable environments, I get more excited, perhaps more
inclined to get the odd story that can do much better than the
market," he told Reuters in an interview.
For Reuters Insider interview with De Blonay, click on:
For a profile of Gibbs double click on [ID:nLDE60B26R]
CHATEAU DE BLONAY
Industry watchers note the different personalities of the
two -- the quietly spoken Gibbs, who tends to shy away from
media attention, compared with smooth-talking, French-accented
De Blonay who seems to revel in the spotlight. He is personable
enough to whip out a photo of his one-month old son when
conversation turns to his home life.
While Gibbs is even reluctant to talk of his love of
Somerset Cricket Club, De Blonay -- who speaks German as well as
English and French -- is happy to point out he plays golf off a
not-unimpressive handicap of six.
He is less comfortable when attention falls on his monied
background. His family still owns a 12th century castle outside
Geneva called Chateau de Blonay, which even has its own railway
station between Vevy-Blonay and Les Pleidades.
The law graduate from the University of Geneva is adept at
steering the conversation back to his funds and is quick to
lionise Gibbs, who he says was his biggest rival while running
the New Star Global Financial Fund.
"I have known Philip Gibbs for quite a while now and he has
been someone that I have looked up to in terms of skills and
performance," he said.
But he has arrived at a time when the performance of the
fund has slipped as Gibbs took a cautious stance and, at one
point, even moved over 50 percent into cash. [ID:nLDE62S0PH]
In the year to date, the fund has underperformed rivals in
the financial sector by a little under 1 percentage point, while
over the 12 months to the end of May it has lagged by nearly 8
percentage points, according to Lipper data.
"[Gibbs] was a bit early in being cautious back in February,
but rightly so because the concerns he put forward then are now
taking centre stage," De Blonay told Reuters Insider.
"We have had a bit of underperformance ... but I don't think
that's going to be for too long. And although we are relatively
cautious about what is going on in the world, especially in the
euro zone, we still believe there are some very good
opportunities emerging in the U.S. and the emerging markets."
De Blonay must be hoping Jupiter's second attempt at life as
a public company will trump New Star's experience.
The firm had been founded by industry veteran John Duffield
after first setting up Jupiter, and raised over 600 million
pounds ($874 million) in its 2005 IPO, making millionaires of
even its receptionists.
The end came last year as New Star was sold to Henderson
HGGH.L for 107 million pounds after being hit by poor
performance, hefty client outflows and debt.
Rejoining Jupiter at end-2009 completed a circle for
39-year-old De Blonay. He kicked off his career at the firm in
1995, given a leg-up by family friend Duffield whom he had first
met while toddling around in nappies as a one-year old.
Duffield later sold a majority stake to Commerzbank
(CBKG.DE) as Jupiter's first period as a listed firm came to an
end and De Blonay was alongside his father's pal again as a
splinter group departed to set up New Star in 2000 following a
spat with the new owners.
De Blonay has fond memories of the time he spent at New Star
working with Duffield, who recruited him fresh from a year of
military service with the Swiss army.
"I am very sorry for what happened with New Star, but my
time there was the best that I have had in my working life," De
Blonay said. "I was very lucky to work with John Duffield -- it
was truly an experience."
(Editing by David Holmes)