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Fortis to Add Long/Short to All Investment Operati

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BOSTON (–Fortis Investments, the asset management arm of Belgian-Dutch Fortis banking and insurance group, plans to have its 14 worldwide investment teams develop alternative strategies.

These groups include Boston-based portfolio managers that are now fully integrated into the global organization. Fortis already has two types of alternative investment businesses.

One is a fund of funds operation run by a team out of Luxembourg. This group manages three funds, two in relative value strategies and one all-strategy fund. These invest in managers worldwide, concentrating on those based in the United States and Europe.

Separately, the firm is building an internal single-manager hedge fund program. A long/short European equity, Ireland-domiciled fund is available, and an emerging markets fixed-income fund is about to be seeded in a managed account. Another three hedge funds are scheduled for this year.

“We want each of our investment centers to have the ability to manage both long-only and alternative techniques,” explained Patrick Van de Steen, global head of marketing. “In each team, we are building skills, research and systems so that people can manage both long-only and alternative.”

Core Process

The company acquired a majority stake in Boston-based Harbor Capital a few years ago and bought the remaining shares last year. This business has sales and marketing capability but also houses three of Fortis’14 investment teams, namely the staff responsible for U.S. equity, global equity and U.S. fixed-income assets.

The plan is for all three to manage long/short investments starting next year. “They will in due course run single-manager hedge funds in their specific areas,” Mr. Van de Steen said.

After instituting long/short portfolios for all the various asset types, Fortis Investments intends to start developing other hedge fund strategies. “We can extend the model further and take it into arbitrage areas,” Mr. Van de Steen said. “At the core is one process that is scalable and allows us to develop a number of products.”

In the meantime, Harbor Capital has changed its name to Fortis Investments as its integration into the rest of the network was completed. New people have joined the Boston business, including Mitch Dynan as chief investment officer for U.S. equity and Charles Burbeck as chief investment officer for global equity. They manage nearly US$10 billion in assets, out of a total of US$84 billion for which Fortis is responsible.

Mr. Van de Steen notes, “It is now 100% owned by us, and that has been a trigger to fully fold it into the global organization, so the investment centers based here are part of the global investment division.”

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