Artisan Partners, a US-based diversified equity strategy manager, is looking to have an Australian presence which will concentrate on marketing the firm’s global and emerging markets capabilities. The firm, established in Milwaukee in the mid-1990s, now has five investment teams and attempts to differentiate itself by providing the best possible environment for “talent”. The investment professionals are in Milwaukee, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and Wilmington. The firm, which manages about US$47 billion, also has a research office in Singapore and is establishing a London office.

Eric Colson, the chief executive, said on a visit to Sydney in March that Artisan set out to attract the best investment talent by creating an outlet for their ideas. “We set out to create high value-add investment products. We have remained committed to that philosophy as we have expanded our investment capabilities globally,” he said. “We think our business model attracts the best investment talent by allowing the investment teams to do what they do best – pick stocks.” All senior investment professionals have equity in the firm and each team is resourced independently of the others. “That way we believe they can work with their own philosophies and investment beliefs,” Colson said. The firm’s global equity and global value teams are headquartered in San Francisco.

Its emerging markets team works out of New York and Wilmington. Artisan’s US growth team is based in Milwaukee and the firm’s US value team is in Atlanta. Colson said Artisan would look at 20-or-so teams per year, with a view to hiring them, but had taken about 15 years to put together its current line-up of five. “We’re not doing deals every year,” he said. He was accompanied to Australia by Dean Patenaude, head of non-US distribution and a managing director, who said that eventually Artisan would like to have a physical presence in Australia. In the meantime, the firm was talking to potential third-party marketers for its initial foray.

“We’ve never been a distribution company. We’re an investment management firm,” Patenaude said. “We’re in the talent business and we fully resource and focus on that.” An experienced marketer, Patenaude joined Artisan last year after setting up the Australian distribution for the multi-affiliate manager Affiliated Managers Group. Artisan’s first offering, launched in 1995 by the firm’s founders Andrew and Carlene Ziegler, was a US small-cap growth strategy. The firm quickly diversified into the non-US market later that year when it hired veteran investor Mark Yockey and launched a non-US growth strategy. After that, the firm brought into the fray a non-US value strategy led by David Samra. In 2006, Artisan brought to market its emerging markets strategy and at the end of March the firm plans to launch a global equity strategy that will bring its total number of strategies to 12.

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