GMO co-founder Jeremy Grantham

The investment firm co-founded by Jeremy Grantham, who is known for his bearish views, dissolved an international stock group following a steep decline in assets at the company.

Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo & Co.’s 10-person international active team, run by Drew Spangler, was dismantled in June, and its staff is being moved to other strategies, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The global equity team, which was restructured last year to focus more on quantitative investing, took over the $1.5 billion in assets managed by Spangler’s group, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

GMO’s shift of assets to its global equity team, run by Neil Constable, is one of several recent initiatives, the Boston-based firm said in an emailed statement. They include an emerging-market equity strategy, one on climate change and another making long/short equity market-neutral wagers.

Money managers including GMO are trying to revitalize their stock-picking businesses. BlackRock Inc. earlier this year fired more than 30 people in its active-equities group and moved billions of dollars to cheaper funds where quants play a role. Active managers continue to face pressure as investors shift their money into lower-cost exchange-traded funds.

The international stock team had mostly invested in small companies globally. Its GMO Foreign Small Companies Fund beat 35% and 70% of peers over three and five years, respectively. It saw assets decline by 46% over the past three years to $625 million as of June.

GMO started making changes last year following a steep decline in assets, cutting about 10% of its staff. The firm in January named Scott Hayward as its chief executive officer. He had run the quantitative investment business for Prudential Financial Inc.’s PGIM.

GMO has seen assets decline by 34% to $77 billion as of March 31 compared with the end of 2014. The assets managed include both fundamental and quantitative strategies.

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