Winning Alliance: Bernstein crowned Fund Manager of the Year

A chart-topping run in international markets and a stellar result in Australia has propelled Alliance Bernstein to a stunning victory in the 2005 Money Management Fund Manager of the Year award.

In what will be seen as a major coming of age for the US manager in Australia, Bernstein stood out above fellow finalists Citigroup and Tyndall to win the prestigious prize at last night’s award ceremony in Sydney.

The active, bottom-up value manager also took out the top prize in the international equities sub-category of the awards, capping off a year when its flagship global fund returned 17.7 per cent in the 12 months to the end of February 2005.

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At a time when most other managers struggled to stay in the black in international markets, the result clearly impressed investment researchers.

Assirt analyst Veronica Gullo said: “Where they have really excelled is in international equities, where they have been one of the top funds over the last 12 months, [and] in emerging markets equities, which is quite a different beast, where again they are number one ranked over the last 12 months.

“And even in their Australian equities, which is relatively new, we still believe that they are a very competent manager and their performance has actually been very good in that asset class as well.”

In the highly competitive Australian equities category of the awards, boutique managers dominated. The winner, MIR, and finalists Ausbil Dexia and Prime Value, completely outshone their larger and more fancied rivals.

Other winners in the 19th year of the Fund Manager of the Year awards included Principal Global Investors, which took out the property class, and Perennial and Pimco, which won the Australian fixed interest and international fixed interest categories respectively.

AXA was named the best mortgage fund manager of the year, while Swiss manager Gottex Funds Management took out the prize for alternative assets and ING won the multi-sector category.

The main prize for Bernstein — a group founded in the US in 1967 — comes just four years after it set up its business in Australia.

A 50/50 joint venture between AXA and Alliance Capital Management, which acquired Bernstein in 2000, brought the manager to Australia. The manager’s retail funds are distributed in Australia through AXA.

Michael Bargholz, chief executive of Alliance Capital in Australia, said Bernstein’s success was built on the scope of its research.

“Research is our calling card in that it, more than any other attribute, really defines who we are. We have a big commitment to global research,” he said.

“It’s also the scope of the research — having analysts around the world searching for performance based not on geography or sector, but at a company level.”

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