* Murrin to head Emergent, Payne to head Emvest
* Emergent to unveil new directors, projects
* Emergent criticised in Oakland Institute report this year
By Laurence Fletcher
LONDON, Oct 12 David Murrin and Susan Payne, the
UK-based husband and wife hedge fund team accused by one U.S.
thinktank of fuelling and exploiting a global commodity crisis,
are to split the two businesses they founded together after
agreeing to separate.
Murrin, a former oil company geologist well known in the
hedge fund industry for his outspoken geopolitical views, has
taken sole ownership and become CEO of London-based Emergent
Asset Management, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Canadian Payne, a former Goldman Sachs banker,
has quit as Emergent's CEO and become UK-based executive
chairman of South Africa-based Emvest, which will continue to
run the African Agriland fund -- a portfolio that has courted
some controversy for its investments in African farmland.
"They've had an amicable separation ... and they've decided
to divide up the businesses," a spokesman said.
The company has declined to say how much money it manages,
although it said in January that Agriland was the largest
agricultural fund in Africa.
The separation follows news of the high-profile divorce of
Pierre Lagrange, star manager at GLG, part of Man Group .
This summer Emergent came in for criticism from
California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute over the
Agriland fund, which aims for returns of 25 percent a year from
land price appreciation, and food and biofuel production.
In a June report entitled "Understanding Land Investment
Deals in Africa", Oakland -- which said Emergent has close to
$540 million invested in African land deals -- said the hedge
fund firm was engaged in a "quest for control of global food
It added that Murrin and Payne "have played leading roles in
creating the commodity crises they are presently exploiting
through funds such as the African Agriland Fund".
In a statement emailed to Reuters, Emvest said Oakland had
"misrepresented ... the reality of much agricultural land
development in Africa.
"Our focus concerns increasing food production involving
commercial farms and smallholders alike, uplifting communities
through, for example, the provision of employment, access to
agricultural support for improved crop production, access to
markets for small scale farmers, access to clean water, and
various facilities and health care."
Murrin, who has stepped down from the board of Emvest, plans
to unveil new directors and new projects for Emergent, the
spokesman said, although he declined to give further details.
Emergent's investments are driven by Murrin's views as
outlined in his book "Breaking the Code of History", which
focuses on his theory of historical cycles.
One prediction included "armed conflict" as China expands
and the United States' power declines.
Earlier this year he outlined plans for funds based on six
trends he believes will define the coming decades: the rise of a
multipolar world, increased commodity rivalry, increased
polarisation and a "move to war", growing military spending, a
rising tide of epidemics and climate change.
Payne confirmed her new role but declined to give detailed
Meanwhile Emergent director Alfred Vinton, who owned 5
percent of the firm, has left the firm.