Each affiliate maintains a large degree of autonomy in terms of investment process, hiring decisions, and operations. The quality of investment culture and stewardship have historically varied significantly from one affiliate to another, and this mix of strengths and weaknesses earns NIM an Average Parent rating.
The firm recently underwent a leadership change: In December 2023, Philippe Setbon replaced Tim Ryan as group CEO. Ryan had been in his current role for less than three years, having joined in 2021 when his predecessor, Jean Raby, left after a four-year stint. While both Ryan and Raby had been external hires, Setbon rose through the ranks internally, having previously served as CEO to NIM’s Paris-based affiliate Ostrum. We will keenly observe which initiatives Setbon will prioritize in the coming year, though we do not anticipate a dramatic shift in priorities compared with the recent past.
Over both Raby's and Ryan’s tenures, the group has focused on shoring up its strongest affiliates. For example, it facilitated Loomis Sayles’ acquisition of McDonnell IM in 2019 and sponsored its hiring of a large team of European credit specialists from a rival firm in 2020. NIM also upped its ownership stake in Australian value-focused manager IML, while preserving that firm’s unique character and incentivizing its veteran staff to stay put.
At the same time, the parent has restructured or divested from some of its weaker businesses. In some cases, such interventions seemed long overdue. For example, Ostrum, which had a history of fund lineup churn, mediocre stewardship, and regulatory failings, saw its fixed-income business merged with rival La Banque Postale Asset Management in 2020, while some of its equity teams were transferred to another one of NIM’s Paris-based boutiques—DNCA. Meanwhile, NIM’s affiliate H2O made the headlines after its investments in illiquid corporate bonds and breach of regulatory limits in 2020 triggered a EUR 75 million fine from the French regulator AMF. (NIM is currently in the process of gradually selling back its share in H2O (which initially stood at 50.01%) to that firm’s co-founders, a process that they expect to take several more years).
Since the H2O crisis, NIM has significantly shored up its risk-control efforts by hiring additional staff, creating a centralized risk and compliance function, and introducing multiple oversight committees, which is positive. Overall, the group is taking some steps in the right direction, though the challenges of a heterogeneous pool of affiliates remain.