December 4, 2019 / 1:46 PM / 5 days ago

UPDATE 1-UK asset manager Merian Global Investors to restructure, cut jobs

* Follows tough year for many active managers

* Consulting with staff; no detail on total job cuts

* Cuts likely to fall across functions (Adds background, detail on funds)

By Sujata Rao, Carolyn Cohn and Simon Jessop

LONDON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Merian Global Investors is planning to restructure its business and is consulting with employees about job losses, it said on Wednesday, the latest active asset manager seeking to cut costs and shed assets as investors turn to cheaper funds.

Managers who make active investment decisions have been struggling to outperform markets in recent years, heaping pressure on them to lower their fees as more investors opt for cheaper, index-tracking funds.

The move comes less than two years after Merian was created through a private equity-backed buyout from Anglo-South African financial services company Old Mutual in June 2018. It currently has around 230 employees.

“Against a very difficult market environment, we have conducted a review,” Chief Executive Mark Gregory said in a statement.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and will mean the loss of some very talented colleagues who have contributed significantly to the success of the business.”

The company declined to give a figure for the number of jobs at risk.

Named after scientist, adventurer and artist Maria Sibylla Merian, Merian was initially led by star fund manager Richard Buxton.

Buxton stepped back from the CEO role in January 2019 to be replaced by Gregory, former finance chief at Legal & General , but continued to lead investments in UK equities, the sector where he made his name.

The job cuts at Merian follow similar moves by peers.

In October, Lazard Asset Management was reported as being set to lay off around 7% of its global workforce, after a summer dominated by the slow collapse of UK stock picker Neil Woodford’s fund company.

FTSE 100 asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen is also undergoing a major restructuring after a 2017 merger, with a fresh round of job cuts flagged by sources earlier this year.

Merian has seen its assets hit hard since starting life as an independent company.

Industry tracker Morningstar said Merian had 45 funds in its database at the end of June 2018 with combined assets under management of 36.2 billion euros ($39.9 billion). At the end of Oct. 2019, it had 34 funds with combined assets of 22.8 billion euros, a drop of nearly 40%.

The biggest fund in the range is the Merian Global Equity Absolute Return Fund, which has seen its assets slide 65% from 13.6 billion euros to 4.7 billion euros, the data showed.

$1 = 0.9073 euros Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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