BlackRock to integrate equity unit in reshuffle

The fund house will put fundamental and quantitative equities under one head in Asia and combine its infrastructure and property units globally in a real assets group. Its Australia head is also relocating.
BlackRock to integrate equity unit in reshuffle

US fund house BlackRock will today unveil – along with its 2015 financial results – a restructuring that incorporates the integration of its Asia-Pacific active equities group and creation of a real assets division.

Effective February 1, the new active equities platform will group fundamental and quantitative equity capabilities in a single unit under Belinda Boa, currently Asia-Pacific head of fixed income and fundamental active equities.

Boa will take on an expanded role as Asia-Pacific head of active investments, assuming broader responsibilities for growing the investment platform across the region. She will continue to lead fixed income and fundamental active equities, and take on responsibility for scientific active equities and multi-asset strategies. On February 1, Rich Kushel will become head of multi-asset strategies globally.

In addition, Justin Arter, currently country head of Australia, will move to London in April to lead the firm’s institutional business in the UK, Middle East and Africa. He is to replace Charles Prideaux, who will become head of active strategies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. BlackRock did not provide details by press time of who would replace Arter.

The restructuring comes as BlackRock looks to expand its active strategies business to meet what it sees as growing demand from clients and a cyclical decline in passive mandates.

In an internal briefing, chairman and chief executive Larry Fink said: “In a market environment characterised by more volatility, lower beta and increased dispersion, clients are increasingly looking for active equity solutions irrespective of whether they are fundamental or quantitative strategies.”

A BlackRock spokesman in Hong Kong told AsianInvestor: “Apac’s unique needs also mean we need to build local investment teams and manufacturing capabilities across our region. Belinda will continue to lead fixed income and fundamental active equities, and take on responsibility for scientific active equities and multi-asset strategies.

“Regulatory change, technology disruption and divergent economic circumstances are making markets more complex and returns harder to generate,” he added. “We are creating a unified infrastructure, enabling even more opportunities for collaboration across asset classes and regions.”

Meanwhile, the new real assets group will combine infrastructure and real estate and will be headed by Jim Barry, currently global head of infrastructure. Marcus Sperber, based in London, will continue in his role as global head of real estate.

Ewen Cameron Watt will step down from his role as chief investment strategist at the BlackRock Investment Institute in July, but will remain with the firm as a senior director. It is not clear who will replace him at this point.

The announcement does not change any portfolio manager assignments.

According to AsianInvestor data, at the end of September BlackRock had $4.5 trillion under management globally, of which $392 billion (8.7%) was sourced from Asia-Pacific clients.

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