Ewan Kirk to exit GAM Systematic as assets slump

Ewan Kirk, founder of the Cantab Capital Partners hedge fund business which was bought by GAM in 2016, is leaving the Swiss asset manager at the end of the month, Financial News can reveal.

Kirk, who serves as president of GAM Systematic, is leaving to pursue other opportunities, which include philanthropic work and non-executive director roles.

In February, it was announced Kirk would join the board of BAE Systems, a position he takes up in June. He is also chair of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and director of the Turner-Kirk Charitable Trust.

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Cambridge-based Cantab was founded by the former Goldman Sachs partner and Erich Schlaikjer in 2006. GAM paid $217m for the business in 2016, which allowed it to move into systematic trading for the first time.

However, the integration of Cantab — which was renamed GAM Systematic — has proved problematic for the asset manager, with its profits taking a hit in 2018 due to impairment charges linked to the acquisition. When Cantab was sold to GAM, it had 56 employees and £4bn under management.

Most recent full year results for GAM, published in February, show assets under management at the Systematic business tumbled to CHF2.9bn at the end of last year, down from CHF4.4bn at the start of 2020. Investors withdrew CHF900m from Systematic’s funds over the course of the year.

The GAM Systematic Multi Strategy fund, one of its flagships, fell my more than 9% last year, according to closely watched industry data from HSBC.

GAM said management of the Cambridge team, research and systems will remain the responsibility of co-chief investment officers Frédéric Desobry and Tom Howat.

“Ewan’s move has no impact on the team management or the research process or technology processes at GAM Systematic Cambridge. Ewan is expected to continue to pursue his interests in philanthropy, advising start-up teams and non-executive roles. Ewan leaves the firm with our very best wishes,” GAM said in a statement.

To contact the authors of this story with feedback or news, email David Ricketts and James Booth

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