Great-West Execs See Hope at Putnam Thanks to Reynolds
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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Great-West Execs See Hope at Putnam Thanks to Reynolds

Great-West Lifeco's top executive is talking up a "turnaround" at Putnam Investments and giving the credit to CEO Robert Reynolds. A Bloomberg article highlights positive statements about Putnam's progress made by Great-West Lifeco CEO Allen Loney.

Loney's comments come as Toronto-based Great-West prepares for its investors day. Loney is expected to tell more details of Putnam's turnaround during the event.

Since the start of the century Putnam's mutual funds faced waning performance and regulatory investigation as first its growth stock investing style fell out of favor and subsequently as then regulators targeted the firm for allowing improper trading. Those issues led its then-owner Marsh to first dismiss then-CEO Larry Lasser and then to sell the Boston-based fund firm to Great-West Lifeco which is controlled by the Desmarais family, one of the wealthiest in Canada.

Loney also revealed that Great-West Lifeco remains open to making acquisitions in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He added that finding targets is a tough task in the current market.

"There appears to be significant reluctance of boards of directors to sell," he explained. Reasons include lower valuations dissuading sellers and the government programs causing uncertainty.

Meanwhile, Putnam remains a focus for the Canadian insurer. Since its peak, assets under management at Putnam have plunged 75 percent to just more than $100 billion from a peak of $420 billion in 2000, writes Bloomberg reporter Sean Pasternak.

According to Great-West's Loney, Putnam is experiencing a "turn-around" which he attributed to the hire of Robert Reynolds as Putnam CEO last July. Reynolds helped push new products for the company and assembled a new investment team.

"We’re starting to see some signs of progress," said Loney in a Toronto interview with Pasternak. However, he added that Putnam will still need "quite some time" to fully recover and reach the aims Great-West is looking for.

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