New Star's Duffield to launch new venture

15 April 2009

Former fund management darling John Duffield is plotting a return to the business with a new company called Hyde Park Asset Management – his third foray into the sphere.

Duffield has hired the 10th floor of number 1 Knightsbridge from Henderson, which recently bought New Star Asset Management, his previous venture. It was the also the HQ of New Star.

It is understood that John Jay, the former Sunday Times financial journalist who served as Duffield’s business development director at New Star, has been hired as chief executive of the new operation.

Duffield, who is approaching his 70th birthday, is credited with creating more millionaires than any other British businessman, is further understood to have called the venture Hyde Park with reference to its location although he has yet to register the new organization at Companies House.

People with knowledge of the situation say the business will at first concentrate on managing money for Duffield’s own family. However, such 'family offices' that look after the interests of wealthy businessmen and their families have a record of expanding into offering their expertise to other family offices.

Such family offices are typically set after entrepreneurs or rich families they have sold on their initial ventures. A notable example is that of the Fleming Family whose family office has looked after their interests following the sale of the investment bank that bore their name to JP Morgan in the 1990s.

These organisations have become an increasingly important part of the investment community in recent years. However the recent downturn has concentrated minds among many and led to the creation of multi-family offices – where several pool resources to reduce costs – as well as increasing interest in specialist fund managers who can provide bespoke services to deal with their needs.

A number of companies have been set up specializing in offering fund management services to family offices with an eye on this development, enabling them to pick and chose from the best in the business rather than directly hiring their own staff to directly manage the money.

Developments in what is a growing industry could provide a fruitful revenue stream for Duffield, who built up Jupiter Asset Management from nothing before selling out to Commerzbank and then repeated the trick with New Star Asset Management.

While the mercurial Duffield’s New Star rapidly fell from grace as a result of the downturn and ended up selling out to Henderson, he still enjoys a formidable reputation in the fund management and business communities.

It is believed that he will steer clear of the retail investment market and the City following his experience with New Star, concentrating instead on the family office business.

Duffield’s research and attention to detail have become legendary in the industry. It was not unusual for staff to board busses after working hours to check the position and maintenance of his companies’ advertising billboards and to then demand discounts the next day if anything was found to be amiss.

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