NationsBank Corp.'s international asset management venture has lost four senior managers, including its head.
Charles G. Smith 4th, president of Gartmore Global Partners, resigned April 15.
Kevin D. Welsh, a managing director in charge of marketing, left Gartmore in March. And chief operating officer Marshall Gatlin and compliance officer Kirit Chokshi have also resigned.
Gartmore Global is a joint venture between Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank and London-based pension manager Gartmore PLC, which is owned by National Westminster Bank.
The venture was set up to manage international investments for U.S. clients, in separate accounts for institutions and in proprietary NationsFunds mutual funds for retail customers.
Mr. Smith, who had run the U.S. side of the joint venture since it was opened in July 1995, had worked 25 years for NationsBank.
"It was time for me to do something different," Mr. Smith said. Reached at home in Charlotte, the 53-year-old executive said he was considering various opportunities.
Gartmore's chief investment officer, Andrew N.R. Fleming, will act as president on an interim basis from his London office. Senior vice president Robin Maxwell, who previously worked in marketing and client service, has been named chief operating officer.
Before being named president of Gartmore Global in 1994, Mr. Smith had been NationsBank's chief investment officer and at that time had overseen the management of $58 billion of trust assets. He was the first president of NCNB Securities Inc., later Nations Securities, the bank's retail brokerage.
Gartmore Global subadvises four proprietary NationsBank funds-Global Government Income, Pacific Growth, Emerging Market, and International Equity-that collectively have $1.3 billion of assets under management. Gartmore PLC manages about $73.4 billion, and NationsBank manages more than $114 billion of assets.
"Mr. Smith was instrumental in putting this venture together and getting it launched. We thank him for it," a spokeswoman said.
His resignation followed that of Mr. Welsh, the marketing director, who has joined Merrill Lynch & Co. in Los Angeles as a managing director responsible for institutional asset management marketing in North America.
"My departure from the joint venture had nothing to do with the departure of others," Mr. Welsh said.
Gartmore Global had been under the supervision of executive vice president James B. Sommers, who is retiring at age 58. Mr. Sommers had run all of NationsBank's asset management businesses until late last year, when he was named strategic planning executive for the bank after its acquisition of Boatmen's Bancshares Inc.
"There were lots of changes going on-there always are in big companies. It was just a time for me to move on," Mr. Smith said. He declined to elaborate on his decision, except to say it was personal.
A lot has changed since Gartmore Global got off the ground, including NationsBank's partner in the venture. Majority ownership of Gartmore PLC was sold by Bank Indosuez to National Westminster Bank in February 1996.
The entire asset management business at NationsBank has been undergoing an overhaul since the $239 billion-asset banking company acquired Boatmen's. NationsBank recently said it would relocate its asset management business to St. Louis, home of the highly regarded Boatmen's Trust Co.
A bank spokeswoman said the recent resignations are unrelated to each other and unconnected to the merger. Although some posts are open, the spokeswoman said, Gartmore Global is "refining" its marketing approach and overall business.
"It's been through a start-up phase. Operations and beginning activities are buttoned down" she said. "Now that Gartmore Global is fully operational we want to move on to the marketing."