February 21, 2019 / 10:11 AM / 4 months ago

GAM's focus is to stay independent - CEO

ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) - GAM Holding’s focus is on staying independent, Chief Executive David Jacob told Reuters on Thursday as speculation swirls that the Swiss asset manager could be sold.

“If we do the actions that we are focused on right now we will be returning GAM to health. That is our focus,” he told Reuters in an interview after the company reported a big 2018 loss.

Asked if that meant GAM could remain independent, he said: “Absolutely. That’s what we’re focused on.”

GAM announced on Thursday that it had dismissed absolute return fund manager Tim Haywood, who was suspended last year and the fund frozen while the group probed allegations that he had violated company rules. Haywood has not commented on this.

Jacob said an internal investigation had found shortcomings related to due diligence and record keeping.

“It was particularly in regard to a number of less liquid, unlisted instruments. In that environment we would expect particular care on pre-investment due diligence and completion of documentation on those details, and that care simply wasn’t taken,” he said.

“The specific investments themselves are not the issue. The fund was not suspended because of the presence of those instruments. The fund was suspended because we had to suspend the fund manager,” he added.

He gave no details about the investment positions in question.

“We still have 1.5 billion (Swiss francs in frozen assets) to return to clients and I don’t want to do anything that would prejudice our ability to do that,” he said.

Reporting by Michael Shields and Angelika Gruber

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