Chase Manhattan Corp. has combined its U.S. equity management functions, transferring $10 billion of assets from New York to Houston, where the bulk of assets in that category are managed.
Chase's Houston asset management division now manages roughly $35 billion of U.S. equity assets and is headed by Henry J. Lartigue, the unit's chief investment officer, said a spokeswoman for the $356.87 billion-asset banking company.
The reorganization, announced last week in an internal memo, resulted in the elimination of 32 jobs, including that of David Klassen, the managing director of U.S. equity funds management and research for New York. Portfolio managers for the U.S. equity funds in the Chase Vista Fund family were also let go.
During the past 18 months, Chase has integrated several asset management functions in an attempt to grow that business. For example, last year Chase merged its retail and institutional sales and marketing forces. It also merged its private banking operations in New York and Houston, under Mr. Lartigue's direction.
Moving the U.S. equity assets to Houston "was a further step in the integration process," said Deborah L. Duncan, the executive vice president of Chase's global asset management and mutual fund group.
Observers said the move makes sense. "You might attribute this to operational efficiency more than anything else," said Christopher Traulsen, an equity fund analyst for Morningstar Inc. of Chicago.
Nonetheless, he said the performance of some of Chase Vista's equity portfolios has been "blah" and said investors "aren't going to scream" about the decision to get rid of the portfolio managers. He added that he was told the equity portfolios would continue to be value-oriented, albeit using a different stock-picking model.
Ms. Duncan denies that performance issues affected the decision to move assets to Houston, where Chase's no-load mutual fund family is managed. "It was really a scale issue," she said.
The banking company's fixed-income and international money management groups remain in New York, under the direction of Mark Richardson, the chief investment officer.
Geoffrey Bobroff, a mutual fund consultant in East Greenwich, R.I., said that in the long run it may make sense to combine the fixed-income capabilities as well. "Trying to run assets of a similar style in different locations is very difficult," he said.