AllianceBernstein’s New Zealand NZ$4 billion funds management unit has been placed under review with staff this week considering options for the business.

It is understood the New Zealand AllianceBernstein division, headed by Mark Butcher, has been given only a matter of days to consider the proposals, which would most likely result in a ‘strategic exit’ from the market.

The group, a 50/50 joint venture with AXA Asia Pacific, principally deals in the New Zealand institutional market, including managing about NZ$2 billion for AXA NZ life operations.

However, AllianceBernstein also manages some retail money in New Zealand mainly sourced via multi-manager AXA Global Investors.

While a large portion of New Zealand-sourced AllianceBernstein funds feed into the group’s global equities products at least NZ$1 billion is managed locally by Andrew Bascand, head of New Zealand equities, and Mark Brown, head of domestic fixed interest.

Close to a dozen staff are employed in the AllianceBernstein New Zealand office.

Butcher declined to comment on the proposals.

“We have a policy of not talking to the media,” Butcher said.

Michael Bargholz, head of AllianceBernstein Australia, was also unavailable for comment.

AllianceBernstein has reduced its global headcount by 20 per cent in the year to the end of September, according to a presentation accompanying the group’s third quarter results.

The manager suffered net outflows of almost US$13 billion over the September quarter, an improvement on the US$24 billion outflows in the three months to June. Revenue declined 12 per cent over the September quarter compared to a 1 per cent drop during the previous period.

According to the latest AllianceBernstein annual report, the group through its two joint venture companies in Australia and New Zealand managed US$28.4 billion earning about US$68.3 million in fees in the 12 months to December 31, 2008.

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