'Superwoman' Horlick to quit City for SocGen advisory role

Nicola Horlick, dubbed "superwoman" for managing a high-flying City career while being a mother of five, is to quit the City to take a lower-profile job away from managing pension funds.

She is expected to officially announce her resignation today as chief executive of SG Asset Management, the fund management business she co-founded with Keith Percy and John Richards five-and-a-half years ago.

After a 14-month stint in the top job, Ms Horlick is to become an adviser to Philippe Collas - the Paris-based chairman of Société Générale's asset management operation. Mr Percy is expected to be named as her successor.

The move appears to end the City career of the 42-year-old, who has become one of the most high-profile women in British business and one of the biggest names in the Square Mile.

While some have suggested she may be planning a new City venture, sources familiar with the situation thought this was not on the cards at the moment. "It's my understanding she'll still be working for SG. I'd be extremely surprised if that [a new venture] was the case," said one source, adding: "This isn't like a part-time non-exec directorship, it's a greater commitment than that."

Ms Horlick is thought to be keen to take more of a backseat role partly to step out of the spotlight and partly because she has found the combined job of running money and heading the operation extremely demanding.

"She's been running money for 20 years and she's got management responsibility as well ... and it's an onerous job," said the source. Ms Horlick, who returned from a two-week holiday this weekend, is expected to sign her new deal today.

She said yesterday she had decided that "it may be a better use of my time" to work in the wider group. While the precise nature of her new role is still under discussion, one area she is likely to be advising M. Collas on is potential acquisition targets.

Her move follows a high-profile spat with Sir Mark Weinberg, the chairman of St James's Place Capital, who fired her operation from running a portfolio estimated at about £500m earlier this year. Both London Regional Transport and Norfolk County Council have also jumped ship.

Educated at Cheltenham Ladies College before reading law at Oxford University, Ms Horlick lives with her husband Tim, a City financier, and their children Alice, Serena, Rupert, Antonia and Ben. She became a household name six years ago after she was ousted from her job at Deutsche Morgen Grenfell and mounted a very public campaign to be reinstated.

She was suspended in 1997, allegedly for planning to defect to the rival outfit ABN Amro in a move which was said to have involved taking colleagues with her. A dramatic move saw her fly to Frankfurt to demand her job back with a pack of journalists in tow.

She later wrote a book called Can you really have it all?.

Ms Horlick's personal life has seen tragedy. In 1998 her eldest child, Georgina, died in her arms at the age of 12 after a nine-year battle against leukaemia. The proceeds of her book have gone to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where her daughter was treated.

The Horlicks' former nanny, Joan Buckfield, went to an industrial tribunal and was awarded nearly £13,000 damages for unfair dismissal.

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