November 7, 2012 / 2:55 PM / 5 years ago

RWC hopes to raise $700 mln by expanding activist strategy

LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Asset manager RWC Partners is hoping to raise up to $700 million by opening its European activist fund, which takes a hand-on approach to companies it buys into, to investors outside the UK.

With institutional investors facing criticism from clients for failing to drive improvements at companies, so-called activist investors are hoping to attract funds by taking a more interventionist approach.

RWC’s European team, which already runs $300 million in assets, is launching a new Cayman fund open to investors outside the UK, the London-based firm said on Wednesday.

The strategy is headed by Maarten Wildschut and Petteri Soininen, who joined from Hermes after RWC bought Hermes Focus Asset Management, its activist unit, in September, and has a capacity of $1 billion across the UK and Cayman funds.

Shares in Danone SA rose on Wednesday after press reports that another activist investor, Nelson Peltz, had bought a 1 percent stake in the food group.

“The approach has generated significant ... returns over time, demonstrating that it creates value for investors,” said Dan Mannix, Principal of RWC.

RWC’s fund will take a long-term approach and work with the management teams of fundamentally sound companies to help improve shareholder returns, the company said.

The fund will concentrate on holdings in 10 to 20 companies. The existing $300 million fund is up 25 percent in the first ten months of this year and has returned 122 percent since Hermes launched it in February 2009.

“Whilst the fund will take substantial positions in companies, and is among the top 10 shareholders in the vast majority of its positions, it is worth noting that the Constructive Activist approach is not dependent on being the largest shareholder,” RWC’s Wildschut said.

The fund currently has declared stakes in Dutch engineering company Grontmij and German cement and mining technology company KHD Humboldt Wedag.

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