Activist investor takes over at the helm of F&C

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The Independent Online

Edward Bramson, the activist investor, crowned his victory over F&C Asset Management by securing executive control of the group yesterday after its chief executive, Alain Grisay, announced his departure.

Mr Bramson – who plans to become executive chairman of F&C "for an interim period" after Mr Grisay's retirement – and his investment firm Sherborne Investors fought a bitter battle for control of F&C earlier this year, building a 20 per cent stake in the fund manager.

In the end he ousted the former chairman Nick MacAndrew and fellow director Brian Larcombe, taking the chairman's role himself and securing the election of Ian Brindle and Derham O'Neill to the board.

Given the nature of the battle it was always questionable whether Mr Grisay would be able to work for long with Mr Bramson. However, F&C said there would be a "gradual handover" of responsibilities before Mr Grisay retires in the third quarter of next year.

That could raise eyebrows in the investment community: corporate governance best practice holds that there should be a clear separation between the roles of chief executive and chairman, and that the latter should be a non-executive position. Nonetheless, both sides were making conciliatory noises yesterday.

Mr Bramson said: "Alain has been with F&C for over 10 years, the last six of which he has served as chief executive. During this time Alain has led F&C to an independent stock market listing, achieved the successful acquisition of Thames River and steered the company through the most tumultuous period of market upheaval for 60 years."

For his part Mr Grisay said that he was leaving "the group in good hands to meet the challenges and opportunities which lay ahead".

During the battle for control of the fund manager Mr Bramson had questioned the acquisition of Thames River, the hedge fund manager he hailed as "successful" yesterday. Sherborne had also called into question F&C's performance while F&C had criticised what it saw as the lack of fund management experience among Sherborne's nominees.

Mr Bramson is in the middle of a strategic review into the future of F&C, the outcome of which is due later this month.