The imminent departure of Andrew Landman from Ascalon Capital Management is not expected to lead to any significant change in strategy by the Westpac-owned boutique-asset-manager holding company.

Ascalon has stakes in nine boutique managers and remains a key component in Westpac’s asset management operations, sitting alongside Advance Asset Management (which offers multi-manager products), BT Investment Management (diverse in-house asset-management capabilities) and Hastings Funds Management (infrastructure).

Ascalon’s manager line-up runs about $4.2 billion. Last week it announced the appointment of Andrew Hutson as an investment specialist based in Hong Kong, while BlackRock announced that it had hired Landman to head its Australian alternatives operation. His starting date has yet to be announced and he has not yet left Ascalon.

A spokesperson for Ascalon said that “over the coming months, Andrew will continue to work with us to see through some of Ascalon’s major deliverables and will continue to lead the team until we appoint a new CEO for the business”.

Ascalon is currently conducing a search for Landman’s replacement.

Landman’s appointment forms part of a plan by BlackRock to beef up its alternatives capability in Australia as it moves to meet the changing needs of investors in an environment where relatively high volatility coupled with depressed nominal returns are causing a rethink on portfolio construction.

BlackRock acting-country head, Michael McCorry, said in a statement that the role of alternatives would come to the forefront as a means of improving diversification to dampen volatility, and lifting portfolio returns.

“[Alternatives] offer the potential to enhance returns while reducing risk because of their low correlation to other asset classes,” McCorry said.

Landman sits on the boards of each of the boutique asset-management firms that Ascalon has an equity stake in, and is also head of investment strategy for the Westpac-owned BT Financial Group.

Ascalon has stakes in absolute-return long/short managers Regal Funds Management, H3 Global Advisors, Canning Park Capital, Helix Partners and Athos Capital; Australian equity managers Alleron Investment Management, Above the Index (ATI) and Continuum Capital Management; as well as thematic international-equity manager Arkx Investment Management.

At BlackRock Landman will report to Rick Arney, BlackRock Alternative Investments’ head of hedge funds, based in San Francisco. BlackRock runs about $110 billion in alternative strategies, of which just less than one-fifth is sourced from the Asia-Pacific region.

 

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