CIO Mayall on Defensive in Unilever Suit

November 1, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Wendy Mayall, chief investment officer of Unilever Superannuation Fund (USF) was on the defensive, in the group's £130 million negligence suit against Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM), formerly Mercury, according to the Financial Times.

Under cross examination (see Managers Acknowledge Blame – Unilever CIO ), she conceded that her claim that Carol Galley, the Mercury’s fund manager in charge of funds £1 billion mandate, offered no excuse or explanation for the company’s poor performance was “unfortunate phraseology.”

The claim, made in a note prepared for Unilever executives, was based on her memory of a meeting with Galley in November 1997, in which the argument got so heated that Mayall had to be restrained by one of her colleagues.

Background

Unilever Superannuation Fund claims that over 15 months, the Unilever pension fund managed by MLIM underperformed its benchmark by 10.5% (see Merrill, Unilever Fight it out in Court .)

Mayall had written that Galley had offered ‘no excuse’ and ‘no explanation” for poor performance.

Nevertheless, she maintained that Galley had not offered any satisfactory reasons, claiming that the fund manager was merely trying to keep from losing the mandate.

Laying Blame

The court also heard that Galley has told USF that that she would take the blame for Mercury’s underperformance, insisting that Alistair Lennard, the fund manager branded by Unilever’s lawyers as a wild card was not out of control.

However, a Mercury report, given to Unilever showed that several of Lennard’s funds were lagging the average returns achieved by his colleagues, by as much as 9.7%.

– Camilla Klein                           editors@plansponsor.com


Read more at Judge Says Unilever Targets “Nebulous” .

Read more at: Unilever Trustee Says Managers Should Monitor Risk .

Read more at: Merrill Faults Bad Choices, Not Negligence in Unilever Case .

Read more at Merrill Fires Back in UK Pension Suit .

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