Butler, Brown Leave Hermes

August 11, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Peter Butler and Steve Brown left their posts at Hermes Focus Asset Management (HFAM) after Hermes Pensions Management CEO Tony Watson decided to limit HFAM's independence.

The surprise move follows an emergency board meeting in London on Tuesday, FT is reporting.   Butler and Brown are the founding directors of HFAM.

FT provided no further details about the boardroom dispute.

Hermes, a high-profile corporate governance activist, often used its £40 billion of assets to lobby for boardroom changes.   Thus, the sudden departures of Butler, head of corporate governance, and Brown, managing director of investments, might raise concerns among HFAM’s investors who have recently benefited from the strong performance of its key funds. Last year, HFAM’s First Focus fund grew by 48%.

Additionally, investors might be concerned that the departures could trigger an exodus of HFAM staff, including some of its fund managers. Butler and Brown are believed to be considering setting up a new fund management operation once the details of the departure are sorted out, according to FT.