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Key fund manager at Fidelity leaving 'to travel the world'

FUNDS REPORTER

Maxime Lemieux, a key fund manager with Fidelity Investments Canada ULC, is leaving on a six-month sabbatical, and it is not certain that he will return to the fund giant when it is over, sources say.

A native of Quebec City, he is a protégé of Fidelity's former star manager Alan Radlo, who left the company in 2006 and joined Toronto-based CI Investments Inc. in January after completing a one-year non-compete agreement.

Mr. Lemieux has been running nearly $2.4-billion in Canadian assets, including Mr. Radlo's former Fidelity Canadian Growth Fund and also co-manages the Fidelity Canadian Opportunities Fund. He has also been managing the $5.5-billion (U.S.) Fidelity Canada Fund for U.S. investors.

"He's leaving to travel the world," said one source. "Whether he comes back [to Fidelity], who knows?"

Mr. Lemieux, who could not be reached for comment, has been based in Boston with other Fidelity managers running the Canadian funds.

His imminent departure comes as the Canadian investment arm faces turmoil as some senior portfolio managers and other employees are balking at moving to Toronto, sources said.

Chris Pepper, a spokesman for Fidelity Investments Canada, would not confirm that Mr. Lemieux will be leaving. "We have nothing to announce at this time," he said.

Sources say that chief investment officer and fund manager Bob Haber and Stephen Binder, who runs the Fidelity True North Fund, are not expected to come to Toronto.

They were among managers paid big bonuses over the past three years to stay on, while a major corporate reorganization has been taking place, sources said.

"There is a major transformation going on ... and they have kept it pretty quiet," a source said.

While the perception is that Fidelity Canada Investments is still part of Boston-based FMR Corp.'s U.S. Fidelity mutual fund empire and shares resources, that is no longer the case, the source added.

Mr. Pepper confirmed that Fidelity's Canadian operation is now part of FMR's Rhode Island-based institutional money management arm, Pyramis Global Advisors, and opened an investment office in Toronto this year.

Already, Cecilia Mo, one of three who co-manages the Fidelity NorthStar Fund, has moved here. Her other co-managers include Joel Tillinghast, based in Boston, and Christopher Goudie in Rhode Island.

Pyramis was created in 2005 to expand into the pension and endowment market, and Fidelity's Canadian arm, which is profitable, was lumped in with that firm to help pay the bills, sources suggested.

"The analysts at Fidelity Canada work for Pyramis and don't work alongside the analysts at Fidelity Boston," the source said. "They no longer share research, or trading rooms. They are completely separate. ...The trading room for Pyramis is in Rhode Island and the trading room for Fidelity is in Boston."

Mr. Lemieux, who is in his mid-30s, was a student at McGill University in 1993 when he met Mr. Radlo at one of Fidelity's road shows, and presented him with a report that he and some classmates had done on several stocks. He was first hired by Fidelity as a research associate after he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1996. Mr. Lemieux has helped Fidelity make inroads into the Quebec market.

Sources say that Mr. Lemieux's funds are in the process of being handed to other managers. Doug Lober, who is managing the Fidelity Canadian Large Cap Fund, is expected to take over Mr. Lemieux's U.S.-based Fidelity Canada Fund.

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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