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Veteran UK stockpicker Richard Buxton bows out of Jupiter

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Richard Buxton is leaving Jupiter Fund Management after a nearly four-decade career at City institutions that made him one of the UK’s best-known asset managers.

Buxton is expected to leave Jupiter at the end of August, handing over the UK equities fund he oversees to Ed Meier and Errol Francis, according to people familiar with the matter.

His departure caps a career in asset management that has spanned almost 40 years, during which time the industry has shifted from the age of “star” asset managers to the proliferation of low-cost index trackers.

He started his career at Brown Shipley in 1985 as an investment trainee, before joining Baring Asset Management where he became head of UK equities. In 2001 he moved to Schroders, where he managed the UK Alpha Plus fund and ran the group’s UK equities team.

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He left after more than a decade to join Old Mutual Global Investors, where he became chief executive and spearheaded a management buyout in 2017 with the backing of private equity firm TA Associates. The carved-out business, renamed Merian Global Investors, was sold three years later to Jupiter for £370mn.

Buxton’s investment style is to hold stocks for the long term — in some cases 20 years — and to focus on about 30-35 shares. Top holdings in his Jupiter UK Alpha fund, which manages £585mn, include pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, power generation business Drax, natural resources group Glencore and Lloyds Banking Group.

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Although he has consistently outperformed his peers over the past decade, UK equity funds have been under pressure recently from market volatility, the pandemic, and nervousness among retail investors in particular.

According to data provider Trustnet, Buxton has returned an average annual rate of 8 per cent over the past two decades. Over the past year, he has returned 8.4 per cent, compared with an average UK asset manager return of 0.9 per cent, according to Citywire.

Jupiter’s performance has improved under chief executive Matthew Beesley, who has restructured the group to cut costs following a lengthy period of outflows.

“Richard is one of the most respected investors of his generation and it has been a pleasure working with him since I joined Jupiter,” said Beesley.

Buxton is also one of a clutch of fund managers who has been vocal on questions such as shareholder rights and dual class share structures that dilute investor voting power in favour of founders.

He recently told the Financial Times that changes proposed by the Financial Conduct Authority aimed at making it easier for companies to list on the London Stock Exchange were a “massive lowering of governance standards”.

In the past, he has taken public stances on corporate deals and board spats including backing financier Nat Rothschild’s attempt to replace the board of coal miner Bumi a decade ago.

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He has also spoken out about corporate governance, criticising Marks and Spencer’s decision in 2008 to combine the roles of chief executive and chair as creating “undue concentration of power”.

Meier, who will take on the Jupiter UK Alpha fund, has returned 3.7 per cent annually on average over the past 13 years, according to Trustnet. He has been the top-ranking UK equity fund manager over the past three years, with his Jupiter Growth and Income fund returning more than 65 per cent, according to Citywire.

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