UPDATE 2-Henderson merges five equity funds

Wed Feb 2, 2011 9:05am EST

* Bill McQuaker takes over multi-manager funds

* Further fund mergers possible in "the next few weeks"

(Adds details, quotes, share price)

LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Fund firm Henderson Group (HGGH.L) plans to merge five equities funds by mid-May to streamline its product range and trim its expanded workforce in the first step of a business reorganisation following a takeover spree.

The Anglo-Australian firm, in the throes of buying struggling rival Gartmore GRTR.L, is to merge three regional multi-manager funds -- the Henderson American, Asia and European -- as well as the tactical and balanced multi-manager portfolios. [ID:nLDE6BJ0SY]

Bill McQuaker, deputy head of equities, will take responsibility for managing the merged multi-manager funds.

The American, Asian and European multi-manager portfolios will be merged into the Henderson North American Enhanced Equity, Asia Pacific Capital Growth and European Growth funds, which are managed by Robert Villiers, Andrew Beal and Richard Pease respectively.

Bill McQuaker will personally be in charge of the multi-manager Active and Managed portfolios, which would incorporate the multi-manager tactical and balanced funds.

As a result of the planned changes, fund managers Mark Harris and Craig Heron have been made redundant.

In 2009 Henderson took over another struggling rival, New Star and is expected to complete the Gartmore deal by early April.

"Whilst we hope to announce more details with regard to Gartmore fund managers and proposed mergers within the next few weeks, the changes announced today will ensure that the combined investment talents of the two groups will be available to investors within a coherent range as quickly as possible," said Graham Kitchen, head of equities at Henderson. Henderson's multi-management business amounts to 1.59 billion pounds ($2.58 billion), of which 700 million were managed by Heron and Harris.

If the planned consolidation was implemented, the number of multi-managers funds would be halved to four.

Henderson shares were flat at 155.6 pence at GMT 13.05.

McQuaker will also take over with immediate effect the management of the Henderson Cautious Portfolio Unit Trust, previously managed by Heron, which will be merged into the Henderson Multi-Manager Income & Growth portfolio on Feb 25.

He said the primary focus for the multi-manager team would be on the 'key sectors' active, balanced and cautious management.

The proposed fund mergers are subject to the approval of market watchdog FSA and of the funds' investors.

Henderson's multi-management business, consisting of multiple sectors, amounts to 1.59 billion pounds ($2.58 billion), of which 700 million were managed by Heron and Harris.

(Reporting by Cecilia Valente, Editing by Sinead Cruise and David Cowell)

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