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Mutual Fund News

Trimark shakes up leadership at $2.6-billion Select Growth

FUNDS REPORTER

Invesco Trimark Ltd. said yesterday that it parted ways with Bruce Harrop after the fund manager failed to deliver strong enough performance in the giant $2.6-billion Trimark Select Growth Fund.

Dana Love, who runs the $2.9-billion flagship Trimark Fund, will now take over the reins of Trimark Select Growth and run both global equity portfolios similarly.

Mr. Harrop, who had run the equity portion of Trimark Global Balanced since 2004, took over Trimark Select Growth early last year after veteran manager Richard Jenkins quit the firm.

"We do acknowledge that the [Trimark Select Growth] fund has underperformed for some time," Graham Anderson, chief investment officer at Invesco Trimark, said yesterday.

"We have a genuine mutual decision between us and Bruce that this was in the best interest for all of the parties."

The two Trimark global equity funds were once a favourite among financial advisers in the 1990s, but have stumbled recently as their value-oriented strategy fell out of favour. Foreign equity funds also have been hurt by a rising Canadian dollar versus the U.S. greenback in currency conversion.

Trimark Select Growth lost 22 per cent for the year ended July 31, and has posted a 0.34-per-cent average annual loss over 10 years. It suffered from net redemptions of about $44-million in July.

Mr. Love had co-managed Trimark Fund since 2004, but took over as lead manager last year when Tye Bousada left the firm to start EdgePoint Wealth Management Inc.

Trimark Fund, which has a lower management fee, has a slightly better record. It lost 20 per cent for the year ended July 31, but has posted a 1.4-per-cent average annual return over the past decade.

Mr. Anderson said there are no plans to merge the two global equity funds since there could be tax consequences involved in addition to the necessary regulatory and unitholder approval required.

Running the two funds similarly will be a return to the way they were managed until 2004 when their lead manager Bill Kanko resigned to start his private investment firm. (He now runs funds for Hartford Investments Corp.) His two Trimark funds then had total assets of about $13.5-billion.

Independent analyst Dan Hallett put all Trimark funds under review after the departure of Mr. Bousada, but eventually kept Trimark Fund on his recommended list while removing Trimark Select Growth. "I clearly viewed Trimark Select Growth as the weaker of the two," he said.

Mr. Love's succession as lead manager for Trimark Fund was "not much of a change for him," but it was a "big step up" for Mr. Harrop to run Trimark Select Growth after running the much smaller Trimark Global Balanced Fund, Mr. Hallett said.

The divergence in the performance between the two funds has been more noticeable this year, he said. Trimark Fund posted a 3.2-per-cent gain this year until last Friday, compared with a 1.6-per-cent loss by Trimark Select Growth.

Heather Pierce, formerly lead manager on Trimark Global Dividend Class and Trimark Global Health Sciences funds, will co-manage the two global funds with Mr. Love.

Jeff Hyrich and Erin Greenfield will co-manage the equity portion of Trimark Global Balanced. Darren McKiernan, a former manager with Burgundy Asset Management Ltd., has rejoined Invesco Trimark to be lead manager of Trimark Global Dividend Class.

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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