March 1 BlackRock Inc, the world's
largest money manager, switched oversight on two of its
energy-oriented stock funds, which have been struggling since
one co-manager, Daniel Rice, left amid controversy last year.
Robin Batchelor and Poppy Allonby, who run similar funds
sold in Europe for BlackRock, will replace Dennis Walsh and Dan
Neumann on the $776 million BlackRock Energy & Resources Fund
and the $391 million BlackRock All-Cap Energy &
Resources Fund on March 11.
Rice co-managed the funds with Walsh and Neumann until last
June when he stepped down after being criticized for a potential
conflict of interest. The possible conflict stemmed from a joint
venture between Alpha Natural Resources, one of the
fund's top holdings, and a subsidiary of an energy company
founded by Rice and run by his sons.
Performance at the two funds has suffered amid the changes.
The energy & resources fund lost 10.2 percent last year,
trailing the category average for natural resource funds by 12
percentage points, according to data from Lipper, a unit of
Thomson Reuters. The all-cap energy fund lost 4.1 percent,
trailing the average fund by almost six points.
New York-based BlackRock said changes were made to improve
investor returns. "We have been incredibly focused on making
sure we are delivering performance to our clients and these
consolidations are in line with that commitment," the firm said
in a statement.
BlackRock also changed managers on two other underperforming
stock funds, the $292 million BlackRock Mid-Cap Growth Equity
Fund and the $1.4 billion BlackRock Small Cap Growth
Lawrence Kemp will take over the midcap fund from Eileen
Leary and Andrew Leger.
And BlackRock's scientific active equity team, which uses
quantitative investing methods, will take over the small cap
fund from Leger and Andrew Thut.