Long-time Pie Funds portfolio manager, Chris Bainbridge, has departed the firm amid a reshuffle at the $2.4 billion plus investment business
Bainbridge left Pie this month after almost 10 years to “pursue business opportunities”, according to the group’s latest newsletter.
He was mainly responsible for helping run the flagship Australasian Growth funds, valued at more than $550 million across the two strategies at the end of 2021.
Among a raft of other changes, Pie Funds founder and CEO, Mike Taylor, returns as chief investment officer to replace incumbent, Mark Devcich.
Devcich, who took over from Taylor as CIO in 2019, remains to “focus on portfolio management and stock selection – in particular for the Australasian Funds”, the newsletter says.
“With global markets shifting into a period of heightened volatility, I believe I can add the most value to investors at present by dedicating my energy and experience as a full-time member of the Investment Team,” Taylor told investors.
He said the board would reassess the role reversals later in the year with any decision to revert or lock-in the changes likely linked to market conditions at the time.
The investment team rejig also sees recent arrival, Michael Goltsman, assume full portfolio management duties for the Australian Growth Fund. Based in Sydney, Goltsman joined Pie last October from small-cap specialist, Ophir Asset Management, to replace Doug Jopling, who previously ran the Australasian Growth portfolio.
Pie is poised to open a permanent office in Sydney, too, with four staff members, including Goltsman, expected to be operating across the Tasman.
Meanwhile, Pie has named Peter Simpson in a new general manager role while appointing UK-based Andrew Heap as a US small-to-mid-caps analyst.
Taylor said Pie would also “be looking to add additional resource to our Australasian Equities team in Sydney and/or Auckland”.
Simpson came aboard Pie in a full-time position in March “after working with the board for several months on strategy”.
“It’s an acting role for now,” Taylor said.
Pre-Pie he advised to FTN Capital Markets after a 20-year career spanning engineering, energy trading and strategy roles for Australian mining companies – Oceania Gold and BHP – as well as Swiss commodities specialist, Duferco.
The Australasian Growth 2 fund – the biggest in the Pie suite with over $430 million under management – underperformed in 2021, returning 3.5 per cent after fees compared to the benchmark 16 per cent. However, the fund, which is now closed to all new investment, returned about 18 per cent annualised after fees and tax over the 10 years to the end of December 2021 against 11.6 per cent for the relevant index.
According to Taylor, the fund was hurt by an overweight tech position last year during a tough time for the sector.
He said while the overall strategy would remain the same “we may reduce the exposure to tech”.
Pie assets under management, including the Juno KiwiSaver scheme, fell about 10 per cent last year from a peak of about $2.6 billion.
Taylor said the first half of 2022 would probably prove “very challenging for investors”.
“But I’m more optimistic about the second half of the year,” he said.