Global Investing

A dish best served cold

January 30, 2009

Alain Grisay, the softly spoken CEO of F&C Investments, was in a wry humour at F&C’s annual press seminar for European journalists on Thursday.

Fresh from his bout with the UK’s Treasury Select Committee on the causes of the banking crisis, and enjoying a respectable set of fourth quarter figures, Grisay is in the rare position of having come through the storm with his house intact. “We have just gone through an unrequested market stress test that confirms our model works,” he said. “We were able to report resilient results for the year and took the market by surprise.”

His company has been viewed as boring in the past by market commentators, but Grisay observed drily that in some quarters F&C is now viewed as a “must have”.

With majority shareholder Friends Provident confirming that it has given up trying to sell F&C, Grisay said he saw a lot more value to be created in building up the shop rather than taking it to pieces.

He was also relatively sanguine about the fall out from the credit crunch, saying that changes in the asset management industry would be deep and long-lasting. “Half the hedge fund industry will be shut down by the end of 2009 due to a combination of redemptions and write downs,” he said, sounding far from worried. “The industry is melting like snow in the sun.”

But he saved his best jab for the UK’s hapless legislature, still struggling to shut the stable door long after the horse has run off and joined the circus. Having survived the Treasury Select Committee’s dissection, Grisay expressed his surprise at the Committee’s approach.

“They are able to produce these typed conclusions from the discussions you have with them, that they have typed up the night before. It’s really very efficient!”

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