Rob Prugue is retiring as head of Lazard Asset Management’s Asia-Pacific region, including Japan. The highly regarded fund manager is taking a three-month sabbatical, going for a very long walk and contemplating a new direction.
Prugue will be leaving Lazard on February 28, after 15 years with the firm. He said in a statement late last Friday: “Retirement is bittersweet. I am appreciative of the experiences and growth opportunities that LAM has provided me with… I believe that the vibrant and collegial environment I have enjoyed being a part of at LAM, will continue to thrive.”
Paul Cuddy, the managing director and head of sales for LAM Pacific, will take over as chief executive for Australia and New Zealand. He would continue to grow Lazard’s institutional business while also focusing on its retail efforts, the statement said.
Cuddy joined Lazard early last year, after a break from the industry, from Bennelong Australian Equity Partners, where he was a founder and chief executive. He was previously a director and co-head of Aussie equities at ING Investment Management.
Lazard is making its reporting lines around the world more uniform, with country and regional heads now reporting direct to New York head office.
Prugue, who has increasingly been involved in volunteer charity endeavours in recent years, including the establishment of People Reaching Out to People, a mental health initiative, in 2016, is looking to further concentrate on those activities as well as retaining a hand in the investment management industry, but probably not on the manufacturing side, he said over the weekend.
An entertaining speaker, Prugue has been an active participant in the funds management industry, often lampooning it to the delight of various audiences. A favourite saying of his goes words to the effect: “I had a privileged childhood, as the son of a diplomat. We lived in and visited many great cities around the world and I saw many monuments. The funny thing is: I never saw a monument to a fund manager.”
Also last Friday another Australian funds management executive well-known in NZ waters, Michael Bargholz, has resigned as BT Investment Management (BTIM) Australia chief executive.
Bargholz, who served as head of Axa NZ in Wellington in the late 1990s will be replaced by, Richard Brandweiner, who has a penchant for impact investing.
Bargholz, a CFA charter holder who joined BTIM in October 2016, was previously the chief executive of Fidelity Investments and, before that, the head of Alliance Bernstein in Australia and New Zealand.
Brandweiner’s career is similarly eclectic, though, with a greater investment focus. He was most recently a partner in the impact investing firm LeapFrog Investments, and before that the CIO of First State Super (FSS). Also a CFA charter holder, Brandweiner held several senior investment roles at Perpetual Investments, including group executive of income and multi-sector products, prior to joining FSS in 2013.
Meanwhile, the NZ-born but Melbourne-raised Geoff Wilson, fund manager, philanthropist and leading light in the resurgence of the listed investment vehicle market in Australia, received an Order of Australia in this the 20th anniversary year of Wilson Asset Management.
Recently turning 60, Wilson said last week in a regular commentary by the firm that he was surprised to get the gong, primarily for his charitable enterprises rather than his funds management skills.
With $2.7 billion under management, Wilson Asset Management is the fourth-largest LIC manager in Australia.
Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)