SAM chief executive steps down over Robeco strategy dispute after just a year in top job

Swiss sustainability manager names interim dual CEOs

Sander van Eijkern has stepped down as chief executive officer of SAM, the Swiss sustainability fund manager, and from the management board of Robeco, SAM’s parent group, after a disagreement over future strategy. The surprise move comes after Van Eijkern had been in the top job at Zurich-based SAM for little more than a year after taking up the position in January 2009. A spokesman for SAM declined to comment on the nature of the Robeco strategy fallout. Last week, SAM launched a new fee structure for institutional investors combining a fixed fee covering the setting up and running of investment mandates along with a long-term performance-based fee, which it said aimed to promote the long-term orientation of institutional mandates. It also hired Neil Johnson, former director at Credit Suisse in New York, to lead its North American operations as head of sales at SAM USA, a new position for the company, as part of a North American push. SAM said that Stephanie Feigt and Michael Baldinger, currently chief investment officer and head of global clients & marketing at SAM respectively, will jointly pick up the responsibility of CEO at SAM while the company appoints Van Eijkern’s successor. Leni Boeren, Robeco’s chief operating officer and managing director of Robeco Direct, the fund manager’s direct retail sales platform, will take over reponsibility for SAM on Robeco’s management board. Roderick Munsters, chief executive officer at Robeco, said: “Given our differing opinions about Robeco’s future strategy we have agreed to go ourseparate ways. Following this, Robeco will downsize its management board to five members. I thank Sander for all he has done for our company. Lastly, it goes without saying, that SAM as a brand, its unique people and investment capabilities remain of high strategic relevance for Robeco.” Van Eijkern shifted his home from the Netherlands to Switzerland after taking the Zurich-based SAM job following eight years as managing director of Robeco Alternative Investments, part of SAM’s parent group, in Rotterdam. He was also overseeing the transfer of Robeco’s clean-tech and sustainability team from Rotterdam to Zurich to create a single centre of expertise for the group’s sustainability businesses within SAM. He will remain a member of the supervisory board of Robeco subsidiary Transtrend, the trading and derivatives manager. A macro economist by education, Van Eijkern joined Robeco’s fixed income business in 1989 before heading it between 1992-2000. In 2000, he switched to head up the firm’s alternatives division, building a hedge fund-of-funds and managed futures business as well as overseeing the implementation of a private equity fund-of-funds business. In 2004, he managed the introduction of Robeco’s sustainable private equity fund-of-funds, a hybrid that allocates to themes such as water, waste management and renewables as well as mainstream private equity funds that sign up to guidelines for responsible entrepreneurship created in tandem with Rabobank, Robeco’s AAA-rated parent group.