Fixed-income managers exit after Barings-Babson merger

Ece Ugurtas, head of specialist fixed income, and Thanasis Petronikolos, head of emerging market debt, are among those who left earlier this month, a spokeswoman for Barings confirmed.

Ugurtas was manager of Baring’s $ 600 million High Yield Bond fund and reported to Marino Valensise, head of the firm’s investment committee. Petronikolos managed the $ 32 million Emerging Markets Debt Local Currency fund.

Faisal Ali, who worked with Petronikolos on the emerging market debt team and managed the $ 17 million Emerging Markets Corporate Debt fund; and Atish Suchak, a high-yield credit manager who worked with Ugurtas, have also left the company.

Ugurtas, Petronikolos, Ali and Suchak could not be reached for comment this morning.

The Barings spokeswoman confirmed that, separately, the firm’s head of investment process, James Ross, who also reported to Valensise, had also decided to leave the firm to pursue other endeavours. Ross could also not be reached for comment this morning.

The spokeswoman said their exits had come amid the firm’s ongoing integration with Babson Capital Management. She said that management of the high-yield bond and emerging market debt funds would transfer to the relevant teams at Babson “with immediate effect”.

She added that the decision had been taken after “very careful analysis of the high yield and emerging market debt capabilities across Barings and Babson, and a decision to follow a more unified investment approach across these important asset classes”.

MassMutual, the Massachusetts-based insurance giant that owns both Babson Capital, a $ 200 billion US fund manager, and Baring Asset Management, which manages €31 billion out of London, said in March it would merge the two firms under the historically significant Barings brand.

At the time, Babson’s chairman and chief executive, Tom Finke, who will lead the merged organisation, told Financial News that knitting together the respective asset managers’ fixed income, equity, property, private equity and multi-asset capabilities would make the firm “highly competitive in the future”.

Babson manages $ 43 billion in high-yield debt and has almost 70 investment managers in this unit, led by Michael Freno. Its 17-strong emerging market bonds team, meanwhile, manages $ 4 billion and is led by Boston-based Ricardo Adrogué and Brigitte Posch, who is based in London and was head of emerging market corporate debt at Pimco before joining Babson in 2013.

The Barings spokeswoman said the two firms “continue to focus on closing the first phase of the integration” which is expected to conclude at around the end of the year.

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