Jupiter’s decision to appoint Matthew Beesley as its next chief executive is unlikely to “fix” the problem of its plummeting share price, former board member Jon Little has said.
“There are dozens of people they could have gone for,” said Jon Little, who was a non-executive director of Jupiter from November 2011 to October 2016.
“Beesley may well have been a good appointment as CIO. But it is not an appropriate or sensible appointment to make him CEO,” he told Financial News. “He hasn’t run a business before – let alone a public company.”
His comments come after earlier criticisms in May, when he said the UK asset manager had “lost its way”.
Since then, FTSE 250-listed Jupiter announced on 28 June that Beesley would step up to the CEO role following the departure in October of incumbent Andrew Formica, who is relocating to his native Australia after three years in the job.
Beesley, who joined Jupiter in January from Artemis and previously worked at GAM, is currently group chief investment officer at Jupiter. He worked with Formica for a period while the pair were at Henderson Global Investors, prior to its merger with Janus Capital in 2017.
Little — who is now CEO of Alderwood Capital and claims to have a “substantial” shareholding in Jupiter — wrote an open letter to chair Nichola Pease in May to publicly express his concerns about consistent net outflows, waning performance and shareholder losses.
Jupiter reported net outflows of £1.6bn for the first three months of 2022, with overall assets under management dipping by more than £5bn to £55.3bn. Its share price has fallen more than 70% over the past five years.
“The share price is about as low as it’s ever been. You would have thought under those circumstances the board would be under pressure to appoint someone experienced who would be positive for shareholders and come up with a bold plan,” Little told FN.
“This is not going to fix the share price.”
Beesley told FN following news of his appointment there were some signs of improvement across Jupiter — originating from its decision to focus attention on expanding its international reach and targeting more institutional clients.
“We have strong foundations and the payoff of Andrew’s hard work will follow. It might just be on my watch rather than his.,” he said.
A spokesperson for Jupiter said that following engagement with major shareholders “it is clear that the majority of Mr Little’s views are not shared”.
“The board has been very focused on CEO succession planning and, with the help of external advisers, undertook a thorough review of both the internal and external market in order to identify potential candidates to ensure an orderly transition when the time came,” the spokesperson said.
“The board is pleased to have such a strong internal successor to Andrew and is confident Matthew’s energy and expertise will help drive forward the group’s strategy, for the benefit of all of our stakeholders.”
However, it is unlikely Jupiter has heard the last from Little.
“After the interim results [on 29 July], I will further publicly engage with the board if I need to,” he said.
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