UPDATE 1-Activist investor Bramson stands down as F&C chairman
By Sinead Cruise
LONDON Aug 22 (Reuters) - Activist investor Edward Bramson has stepped down as chairman of F&C Asset Management, the fund firm he took control of in a 2011 boardroom coup, after reshuffling its strategy and management team.
The press-shy veteran investor, who has built a reputation for boosting performance at struggling quoted companies, has relinquished the role after completing a turnaround programme aimed at improving F&C's earnings and lifting its flagging shares, a source close to the company said.
Non-executive Director Kieran Poynter will succeed Bramson as chairman of the 140-year-old fund firm, which runs around 92 billion pounds in assets, F&C said in a statement on Thursday.
Poynter joined the board as an independent non-executive director in June 2009 and has served on its audit & compliance and remuneration & nomination committees.
The transfer of the chairmanship to Poynter ends New York-based Bramson's two-and-a-half-year stint on the board of F&C, first as joint chief executive/chairman and later as executive chairman.
Bramson's departure comes almost three years to the day after his AIM-listed investment vehicle Sherborne Investors first appeared on the F&C shareholder register, heralding a phase of shareholder activism that resulted in his accession to the board in February 2011.
While his day-to-day involvement in F&C has reached a conclusion, Bramson is expected to remain a significant shareholder in the company, the source said.
He is now expected to turn his attentions to another corporate underdog, after launching a second Guernsey-domiciled investment vehicle, Sherborne Investors Guernsey B in January.
That vehicle has been seeded with around 200 million pounds of equity from a number of investors, including Soros Fund Management and Aviva Investors, who are betting that Bramson can repeat the success he has enjoyed at F&C and earlier at technology group Spirent and chemicals maker Elementis.
Bramson helped to drive profits up by 96 percent over three years of investment in Spirent, and by 144 percent over 20 months at Elementis.
F&C shares have surged by almost 120 percent to since August 2010 when Bramson's stakebuilding began, compared with a 50 percent rise in the FTSE Mid cap index over the same period.
Shares were trading up 1.6 percent to 104 pence at 0955 GMT.
F&C reported a 66 percent increase in earnings per share in its first-half results in July, lifted by robust management and performance fee revenue, and an ongoing cost cutting programme.
Company operating margins rose to 37.6 percent in the six months to June 30 from 26.8 percent a year earlier and it is on course to deliver around 50 million pounds in savings by 2015.
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