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Australian dollar banknotes of various denominations are arranged for a photograph in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. The Australian dollar rose for the first time in six days after an index showed business confidence improved last month and iron ore prices extended gains. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

(bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- In the days leading up to Tim Haywood’s suspension, one of his funds at Switzerland’s GAM Holding AG was showing an unusual pattern.

The GAM Absolute Return Bond Fund - Master Fund, an Australian dollar-denominated pool that had attracted fairly steady inflows throughout the year, was suddenly seeing a sharp spike in withdrawals. Within a few weeks, the feeder fund lost three-quarters of its assets, leaving it with A$293 million ($214 million) by the end of last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Now some clues are emerging as to why: JANA, an Australian asset consultant, advised clients to reallocate elsewhere after a review of Haywood’s fund, according to a person familiar with the matter. While it’s not clear why JANA changed its opinion, that led to redemptions in the weeks before his suspension, said the person, asking not to be identified because the details weren’t publicly disclosed.

A JANA consultant declined to comment on its research and clients when contacted by Bloomberg on Linkedin. GAM said the redemptions from the feeder fund had nothing to do with Haywood’s suspension.

GAM suspended the star bond manager on June 31 and froze redemptions to allow for an orderly liquidation, after it said Haywood breached some due diligence rules and company policies. Funds with $7.3 billion in assets are being liquidated, including the Australian fund, in the latest headache for the Swiss firm that’s also struggling with losses in a separate quant strategy.

“The redemptions in the GAM Absolute Return Master Bond Fund AUD in July followed business as usual meetings with a consultant, which did not include any discussion on the subsequent suspension of Tim Haywood,” Elena Logutenkova, a spokeswoman for GAM, said in an emailed statement.

The affected fund, a feeder fund for Haywood’s Absolute Return Bond Strategy, counted a handful of Australian institutions as investors. Australian investors in Haywood’s strategy include the $11 billion Local Government Super retirement fund and financial firm Equity Trustees, according to public disclosures.

A Local Government Super spokeswoman confirmed that it had been invested in the Absolute Return Bond Fund since 2013 and that it formed only a “small portion” of its portfolio, while declining to elaborate. A representative for Equity Trustees didn’t immediately return a call for comment outside of normal business hours in Sydney.

The Zurich-based asset manager hasn’t given a timeline for winding down the assets, which will depend on regulatory approvals and in some cases extraordinary general meetings of holders as the funds are spread across the Cayman Islands, Ireland and Luxembourg. The funds being liquidated account for about 9 percent of the 84.4 billion francs in client assets GAM’s investment professionals manage. The firm provides fund services to an additional 79.4 billion francs in assets.

The fund manager’s honesty is not in doubt and there has not been a material impact on clients so far, the firm has said.

--With assistance from Julie Edde, Ryan Du Toit and Suzy Waite.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at pwinters3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net, ;Neil Callanan at ncallanan@bloomberg.net, Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam, Christian Baumgaertel

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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