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Fink bows out of Man Group

Date: Thursday, May 29, 2008
Author: Ben Fenton, FT.com

Stanley Fink, the lampshade-maker’s son who brought the European hedge fund industry out of the shadows, is to step out of the limelight, Man Group, which he headed for seven years, announced on Thursday.

The hedge fund management group, which announced strong growth in assets and profits in its full-year results, said Mr Fink would not seek re-election to the board and would leave his position as deputy chairman in July.

He had already moved out of the chief executive’s chair last September to make way for Peter Clarke after seven years at the helm of one of the UK’s most successful and high-profile players in the hedge fund sector.

The 50-year-old had overseen the rapid expansion of Man from a commodities trader when he joined from Citibank’s leveraged buy-out unit in 1987 to the world’s largest manager of hedge-fund strategies and funds of hedge funds.

In its announcement on Thursday, Man said assets under management grew by 21 per cent to $74.6bn and its pre-tax profits rose from $1.3bn to $2.03bn, beating the upper range of analysts’ forecasts by $60m.

Net fees for positive performance of funds increased by more than 160 per cent from $358m to $936m and clients’ funds rose by a net $5.2bn in a market where many hedge funds have reported outflows of money under their control.

Shares in Man were 3.9 per cent or 23p higher at 611½p in afternoon London trading.

Mr Fink’s departure will mark the end of an era because he was inextricably associated with the entire UK hedge-fund industry and was seen as one of its most powerful advocates across Europe, as well as having considerable respect in the US.

Unlike many hedge funds, Man stepped into the public gaze under his stewardship and is perhaps best known among the public at large as the sponsor of the Booker Prize.

But in recent years Mr Fink has become increasingly interested in philanthropic activities and has already given away substantial quantities from a personal fortune that has been estimated as high as £145m.

Colleagues said when he stepped down as chief executive that his approach to life changed after he lost the power of speech while on holiday in Botswana and subsequently had a benign brain tumour removed.

Charities in which he plays a major part include the Ark (Absolute Return for Kids), the children’s charity run by European hedge fund managers, including Arki Busson.

He has been a prominent supporter of the Burlington Danes City Academy school in London, where he has been chairman of the governors and also contributes to a children’s charity associated with Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital.

Mr Fink was born in Manchester and attended the grammar school before reading law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. His first job was as a trainee accountant with Arthur Andersen.

Peter Clarke, Mr Fink’s successor, attributed the company’s strength on Thursday to “our wide range of investment management capabilities combined with conservative product structures, both of which have allowed us to perform for our investors through some of the most turbulent markets in recent memory.”

The company announced a dividend of 28 cents, for a total payout of 44 cents for the full year to March 31.