Ex-AGF managers land at Sprott

By Mark Noble | January 29, 2008 | Last updated on January 29, 2008
3 min read

Charles Oliver and Jamie Horvat, the award-winning resource fund managers who recently left AGF Funds, have been hired by Sprott Asset Management (SAM). The firm’s president and CEO, Eric Sprott, told Advisor.ca that the two have been brought on to take over the portfolio duties of chief investment strategist John Embry.

Oliver and Horvat resigned suddenly last Friday from AGF Funds, where they had management responsibilities for five resource-heavy mandates, including the AGF Precious Metals Fund, which won the Precious Metals Equity Fund of the Year at the 2004, 2006 and 2007 Canadian Investment Awards.

Sprott says his company had been searching for some capable managers to take over the portfolio duties of Embry, a renowned gold-investing expert.

“The reason that we have hired them is that John Embry really doesn’t want to do day-to-day work here. He’s going to stay with us as our chief investment officer, but he’s got to slow it down a little,” Sprott says. “I would say as a strategist he will be very involved. He’s very much involved in the gold scene, and I’m sure he’ll continue to be involved from a macro sense on the study of gold and preaching our view on gold to the public at large.”

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  • Sprott expects Oliver and Horvat to play an active role in the day-to-day management of the firm’s sizable positions in gold.

    “We need someone here full time that’s monitoring our gold investments. These two fellas won the Canadian Investment Award last year. That will be the first place that they’ll step into,” he said.

    Sprott also suggested that Oliver and Horvat may eventually play an important role in leading Sprott Asset Management into uncharted territory — large-cap investing.

    “Another thing they have that we don’t really have — although it’s not that we couldn’t develop it — is experience with large-cap stocks,” he said. “They have had experience, and they would know the lay of the land already, whereas I am not a good person to ask about some big-cap stock because I just don’t follow them.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that SAM has snagged award-winning managers from a rival firm. Last summer it enticed small-cap investment expert Allan Jacobs and his associate Peter Imhof to leave their longtime employer, Sceptre Investment Counsel. Jacobs was named Fund Manager of the Year at the 2006 Canadian Investment Awards.

    The talk about large-cap mandates in addition to the new faces may have some wondering if Sprott is looking to expand his firm. He says the new hires result more from opportunity, rather than a long-term expansion strategy.

    “It’s more a question of whenever there is an opportunity to hire great people, you’ve got to do it. There aren’t that many good managers,” he says. “Whenever we can get well-established guys, it’s better to have two of them than one, quite frankly. We did the same thing with Allan Jacobs and Peter Imhof.”

    The spate of high-profile hires may also add lustre to an initial public offering of the privately held company, but Sprott says his firm doesn’t have any definite plans for this yet.

    “There is nothing that we have decided to do at this point in time, but you always have to think about it. We run a large company and it’s growing fast. We have a very concentrated ownership, so you know [an IPO] is something we monitor from time to time,” he says.

    Filed by Mark Noble, Advisor.ca, mark.noble@advisor.rogers.com


    Mark Noble