Cevian Capital, the active ownership fund manager which numbers the Florida State Board of Administration and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board among its clients, has recruited high-profile former UK minister and fund management executive Lord Myners.
Myners, 62, the former head of Gartmore who was Financial Services Secretary in the previous UK government under Gordon Brown, has taken on the role of UK chairman at Cevian.
Sweden-based Cevian, founded in 2002 by Christer Gardell and Lars Förberg, is Europe’s largest activist fund manager with €3.5bn of assets under management for mostly institutional investors.
Myners, who has also chaired retailer Marks & Spencer and Guardian Media Group, is perhaps best known in pension fund investment circles for his influential 2001 report on institutional investment. The review took aim at the herd mentality of institutional investors and set out 10 “Myners Principles”. It was clear, Myners said then, that “fund managers remain unnecessarilyreluctant to take an activist stance in relation to corporate underperformance”.
More recently he has lambasted institutional investors for being “absentee owners” in the run-up to the financial crisis.
As Myners told the Financial Times, the Cevian appointment is “’put your money where your mouth is’ time”.
Cevian’s peers are outfits like Governance for Owners, Hermes Focus Funds and Knight Vincke. Its approach is to take significant ownership positions in European public companies where it reckons long term value can be enhanced through active ownership. It works on a three to five-year investment horizon, with investors locked in for a similar duration. It usually concentrates on 10-12 companies at a time. Myners will help Cevian identify investment targets, work with boards and build alliances with other investors. Responsible Investor understands Cevian is in the process of signing up to the UK’s Stewardship Code.