M&G's Graham French to retire

By , on

M&G's renowned Global Basics manager Graham French has announced his retirement from the fund management industry.

He is handing the management of his M&G Global Basics fund to his deputy, Randeep Somel, with immediate effect.

His retirement follows a period of underperformance with the M&G Global Basics fund, with a 4.7% return over the past three years versus a 33.2% rise by its composite benchmark.

French has managed the fund since November 2000 and Citywire Global drew attention to his drop in performance back in April this year in our Performance Clinic feature.

Shortly afterwards in July he stepped down as lead manager of the €1.55 billion M&G Managed Growth, leaving Somel to take the reins.

Commenting on the appointment of Somel to his Global Basics fund, French said: 'Randeep and I have worked alongside each other for more than five years. He knows the portfolio intimately and is therefore ideally placed to be the next steward of the Global Basics concept of thematic investment.'

The UK firm insisted there will no change to the fund's investment approach which will remain an unconstrained, conviction-led portfolio of around 60 stocks.

'I will be available to Randeep as an adviser for the next six months, but he is now firmly in the driving seat,' added French.

In a recent interview with Citywire Global in October, the veteran apologised to investors for underperformance on the Global Basics fund last year, as his fund continued to suffer sustained redemptions.

He told investors it was the first time in 12 years that the fund had seen redemptions.

The fund reached a peak of over €7.9 billion in June 2011 but has gradually fallen away after a period of underperformance.

As recently as March of this year the fund stood at €6.6 billion, but by the end of September 2013 it had fallen to €5.25 billion.

In October he explained the sharp period of underperformance came after a huge drop in the share price of core holding, global services group G4S, and a collapse in commodity prices affecting holdings such as Iluka Resources. 

‘Last summer G4S was a disaster and it took 2% off performance after it collapsed on the Olympics debacle,’ he said.

‘It was a difficult May and June 2012 and we apologise. My money and my parents’ money is in the fund and I’m sorry that I misjudged the depth of the management of G4S.’

Healthcare is currently around 8% of the fund, but French said he expects it to gradually increase to 15%-20% as the developing world continues to inherit the health problems of the developed world.