NEW YORK (Reuters) - A top BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) investor focused on Latin American stocks is leaving the company, the world’s largest asset manager said on Wednesday.
Will Landers, the veteran portfolio manager for the company’s Latin American equity funds and head of research for the region, is leaving along with two analysts based in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s financial center, the company said in a statement.
Landers oversaw an estimated $2 billion in assets, according to BlackRock’s most recent filings with U.S. regulators.
Research analysts Andrea Cardia and Andrea Weinberg are also leaving to “to pursue other opportunities,” BlackRock Global Head of Active Equities Mark Wiseman and one of his colleagues said in a staff memo provided to Reuters.
It was not immediately clear where the BlackRock employees will be going. Landers, Cardia and Weinberg did not respond to messages sent to social media accounts they maintain.
BlackRock’s memo said that Ed Kuczma would take on some of Landers’ portfolio management responsibility duties, adding that Kuczma has more 15 years of investment experience in Latin American equities.
The transition comes during a wild period for investors focused on the region, whose swing to conservative rule in places, including Brazil, has isolated leftist-ruled countries such as Venezuela, a major oil producer. Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in on Tuesday. Investors are also looking for progress on economic initiatives from Mexico to Argentina.
BlackRock’s memo said the company is “working actively to strengthen our resources in Latin America research and portfolio management,” and planned to increase staff dedicated to that effort. It was not clear if the company’s active equities division will still have an on-the-ground presence in Brazil, and a BlackRock spokeswoman did not comment.
Global fund managers have struggled in recent years with a trend toward cheaper “passive” index-tracking products. BlackRock, which oversees $6.4 trillion in both actively managed and passive funds, announced in 2017 a strategy to bolster its own stockpickers, including reorganizing to focus on niches, such as specific geographic regions where it could offer expertise and win assets. Equity research in Sao Paulo was highlighted as part of that effort.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Lisa Shumaker