SYZ Asset Management has hired Mike Clements as its new head of European equities to replace Eric Bendahan (pictured) who has left the Swiss group to set up his own boutique, Citywire Global can reveal.

The former Franklin Templeton manager has joined the group's London office alongside his colleague and fund manager Claire Manson after they both left the US firm earlier this summer.

The duo, which previously held Citywire AA ratings, departed shortly after their European equity fund, the Franklin European Growth fund, was soft-closed to investors on July 8 upon reaching €3.1 billion in assets.

In his new capacity, Clements (left) will take over responsibility for Eric Bendahan’s three former funds.

These are the €1.7 billion OYSTER European Opportunities, the OYSTER European Selection and the recently-launched OYSTER Continental European Selection funds.

Manson, who will be based in Edinburgh, will assume responsibility for the OYSTER European Small & Mid Cap fund. The current lead manager on this fund, William Sharp, has also left the group.

Speaking to Citywire Global, Clements said: ‘There is quite a lot of entrepreneurial spirit at SYZ Asset Management and there is a lot of freedom to create investment opportunities. That was one of the key things that drew me to this position.’

‘We will focus on generating alpha but with less volatility and a focus on downside risk. The main message I am trying to get across is we are a team which has developed a good track record and we will look to build on the process we developed at Franklin Templeton,’ he added.

Bendahan exit

Meanwhile, Citywire A-rated manager Bendahan has opted to call time on his nine-year tenure with SYZ Asset Management and is setting up his investment group, called Eleva Capital.

Bendahan, who was formerly with AXA IM before joining SYZ in 2005, has now outlined plans to officially launch his new boutique, which will be centred on a Pan-European long-only equity fund.

The fund will be Luxembourg-domiciled and is still subject to regulatory approvals. The fund manager intends to launch it in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Commenting on the new venture, Bendahan said: ‘After more than 15 years managing money, I am very excited at the prospect of starting an independent asset management company. There are still in my view tremendous investment opportunities in European Equity markets.’

Bendahan is not the first European equity manager to have stepped down from SYZ Asset Management and formed his own investment boutique.

Nicolas Walewski, who preceded Bendahan on the OYSTER European Opportunities fund, departed to form Alken Asset Management in 2006.

Over the three years to the end of August 2014, the OYSTER European Opportunities EUR fund returned 52.8% in euro terms. Its Citywire benchmark, the STOXX Europe 600 TR EUR, rose 60.5% over the same period.