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The return of Nicola Horlick

Nicola Horlick, 43, has never been out of the limelight for long.

Nicola Horlick, 43, has never been out of the limelight for long. Dubbed "Superwoman" in the British press for her ability to juggle a high-profile job in the male-dominated City with the demands of being a mother of six children (one of whom died of leukemia), the fund manager raised her profile even higher by penning a self-help manual for working moms and personally appearing on the posters selling her last firm's funds. Horlick can only hope that her new venture, Bramdean Asset Management, receives as much notice as her life has gotten in the popular press.

The firm, which starts up later this month, is named after the village in Hampshire where Horlick now lives. The former chief executive of SG Asset Management -- she left over a dispute about a potential acquisition -- and onetime top stock picker for Deutsche Asset Management won't be managing money; Bramdean will be a manager of managers, with Horlick as talent-spotter-in-chief.

"I think there is a big hole in the U.K. market for multimanagers," Horlick tells Institutional Investor. "If you look at the U.S. and Australia, the product has really taken off. It hasn't in the U.K., and that is largely because the incumbent players have not done a good job." The U.K.'s two biggest multimanager firms, SEI Investments and Russell Investment Group, have both had less than stellar results over the past three years.

Horlick is launching Bramdean with her own funds and a core staff of nine. The goal is to have 40 employees by 2007 and a solid client base of U.K. pension funds specifically targeting small-scale operations.

She will have good company at Bramdean. City grandee Sir Derek Higgs, author of an influential 2003 government-sponsored report on corporate governance, will be chairman. Michael Kinney, former research chief at Northern Trust Global Investments, will play a similar role at Bramdean. "We have complementary skills, which I believe will enable us to pick better managers," says Horlick. "I know what makes fund management companies tick and am not likely to be seduced by the marketing hype."