Jeff Ubben, the founder of ValueAct Capital, the activist hedge fund manager who has targeted companies ranging from Microsoft to KKR and Citigroup, has relinquished his role as chief executive, as the group conducts another overhaul of its upper ranks.
Mr Ubben would continue to oversee the ValueAct Spring Fund, the impact investing fund that accounts for just under $1bn of the $16bn the group manages. His protégé, Mason Morfit, currently the president, would become chief executive of the company and continue as chief investment officer of the flagship Master Fund, ValueAct told investors.
Two of the group’s longstanding partners, Allison Bennington and Greg Spivy, are leaving. Ms Bennington is also its chief global affairs officer and one of the most senior women in activist investing.
Brandon Boze, a partner and member of the company’s management committee, was promoted to president and would head up the front office, while Brad Singer, the chief operating officer, would continue to oversee the back office. Mr Boze is board chair of CBRE Group and a director of Trinity Industries, and a former director of Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
Mr Morfit told the Financial Times the changes would free him up to focus more on investing and allow the group to promote some of its “Generation 3” partners, who are mostly in their mid-30s.
“It really sets us up to manage what has become a global operation,” he said, referring to investments with Olympus in Japan and Merlin Entertainment in the UK.
The changes came two and a half years after Mr Ubben first stepped back from daily oversight of the group’s main portfolio, giving the CIO title to Mr Morfit.
Under Mr Ubben, ValueAct pioneered a friendlier activist investing style that was eventually adopted by many of its competitors. Mr Ubben would spend “the vast majority” of his time managing the Spring Fund, acting as “a great mentor” and “most importantly, [sharing] his Rolodex”, said Mr Morfit.
ValueAct was one of the better performing hedge fund managers last year, with its Master Fund up 32 per cent and the Spring Fund returning more than 30 per cent — in line with the US S&P 500’s 31.5 per cent total return. In the main fund, the biggest gains came from ValueAct’s investments in Citigroup, Seagate Technology, Olympus, KKR and CBRE.
“We aspire to be the shareholder of choice for companies going through change,” said Mr Morfit.
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