GAM Names CEO in Turnaround Bid

Months after announcing a restructuring, GAM has hired a former BlackRock managing director to lead the Swiss asset manager.

Peter Sanderson (courtesy photo)

Peter Sanderson

(courtesy photo)

GAM Holding has named Peter Sanderson chief executive officer to help the Swiss asset manager overcome troubles it has faced over the past year.

Sanderson, previously a managing director at BlackRock, will become CEO at the beginning of September, according to a statement Tuesday from GAM. Interim CEO David Jacob will become chairman starting October 1, replacing Hugh Scott-Barrett, who will remain on the board until GAM’s general annual meeting in 2020.

“If I have to summarize today’s results, we can close on the past and focus on the future,” said Tobias Plangg, a spokesman for GAM, by phone Tuesday.

GAM’s issues surfaced July 31, 2018, when the firm announced that it had gated its unconstrained/absolute return bond funds to stem outflows. Soon after, GAM liquidated the funds and fired the director of those funds, Tim Haywood, for allegedly failing to conduct sufficient due diligence on certain investments. The firm announced a restructuring in December and this year overhauled its board.

Hiring Sanderson is yet another step in the firm’s efforts to rebuild. GAM said separately in an earnings statement Tuesday that it has completed the liquidation process for the bond funds, and that the investment management unit has seen positive inflows in June and July.

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Despite these positive signs for GAM, one recruiter said he thinks Sanderson could have a tough road ahead.

“Generally, a turnaround doesn’t work,” said Charles Skorina, founder and owner of recruitment firm Charles Skorina & Co., by phone Tuesday. “He is coming in cold; he’s got to make decisions based on shreds of information.”

Still, Sanderson’s outsider status will be helpful in making tough decisions, like layoffs, said Skorina, even if he struggles with not knowing the company as well as an insider. At BlackRock, Sanderson held several senior roles, including head of financial-services consulting for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and co-head of the firm’s multi-asset investment solutions business, according to GAM.

As a role model inside financial services, Sanderson could look to James Gorman, who became CEO of Morgan Stanley in January 2010 when Wall Street was recovering from the Great Recession, according to Skorina. He said Gorman, who joined the bank in 2006 from Merrill Lynch, focused on core businesses where Morgan Stanley was good at making money.