ValueAct Capital’s founder Jeff Ubben is stepping down as chief executive officer at the activist hedge fund firm amid a bevy of top-level management changes.
Ubben, who founded the San Francisco firm in 2000, will remain on as chairman, while ValueAct’s president, Mason Morfit, will be promoted to chief executive officer, according to a letter sent to investors Tuesday. The Financial Times first reported the news on Tuesday evening.
Ubben will continue to manage ValueAct’s Spring Fund, its smaller, socially responsible fund, according to a person familiar with the changes.
“When ValueAct was founded 20 years ago, our active engagement model was novel and unproven,” Morfit said in a statement via email. “Over the past 20 years, we have grown into a multi-generational, multi-product, global firm — one with a unique role in the capital markets as engaged shareholders with a long-term orientation and a toolkit full of ways to make companies better.”
Morfit joined ValueAct’s management committee in 2007 and was named president at the firm in 2013, the letter said. In 2017, Morfit was promoted to chief investment officer and portfolio manager of the ValueAct Master Fund.
Brandon Boze will be promoted to president of the firm, taking over Morfit’s role, according to the letter. Boze has been on the firm’s management committee for the past two years and has worked at ValueAct for nearly 15 years, the letter said.
“Our new management structure, and the addition of Brandon Boze as president, provides the infrastructure that will continue this momentum into the next 20 years and beyond,” Morfit said via email.
Boze, along with ValueAct’s chief operating officer Brad Singer, will be responsible for the firm’s day-to-day management, the letter said.
“Both Mason and Jeff will be able to enhance their focus and energy on investing and managing their respective portfolios,” according to the letter. “Investing is their true passion and what they do best.”
ValueAct announced these changes and others to investors after a banner year. According to the letter, the firm's ValueAct Capital Master Fund returned 32 percent net of fees in 2019.
“The key drivers that contributed to the fund’s performance were Citigroup, KKR, CBRE, Morgan Stanley, Seagate, and Olympus,” according to the letter, which noted that the firm had “built a close working relationship with the leadership teams” at each company.
ValueAct’s Spring Fund returned 30 percent net of fees for the year. The fund, which was started two years ago in 2018, is now managing nearly $1 billion in assets, the letter said.
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As a part of the firm’s staffing changes, Greg Spivy, who has been an investment partner at the firm since 2004, will be retiring, per the letter.
“Greg came to us from a career in private equity and developed two core assets for us: our private deal execution capabilities and our industrial industry network,” according to the letter, which noted that he played an important role in mentoring many of its partners.
Meanwhile, Allison Bennington, the firm’s chief global affairs officer, is also leaving the firm after a transition period. She is relocating to London to be closer to her two grown daughters, the letter said. Bennington joined the firm 16 years ago, starting as general counsel.
According to the letter, Bennington built “trust and credibility” with governments, academics, regulators, and institutional investors during her time at ValueAct.
The firm also promoted three employees. Alex Baum, who invests for the firm’s Master Fund, has been promoted to partner, while Eva Zlotnicka, who has worked on governance for the firm, is being promoted to managing director of the Spring Fund and head of stewardship. Meanwhile, Drew Stroud has also been promoted to managing director of marketing and head of communications at the firm.
Additional reporting by Stephen Taub.