13 february 2007

New investment committee at Oxford University

Richard Oldfield, Chief Executive of investment management company Oldfield Partners, has been appointed Chairman of the investment committee at Oxford University. Five other investment practitioners have been appointed as committee members. The committee has decided to appoint a Chief Investment Officer for the University to oversee an investment office managing the University's funds.

The appointments follow a decision to reform the investment committee, which reports to the University Council, so that the majority of its members have current professional fund management experience.

Members of the new investment committee include four investment practitioners: Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of Portland Capital; Francis Finlay, co-founder and Chairman of Clay Finlay; George Robinson, co-founder and Partner of Sloane Robinson; and Anne West, Chief Investment Officer of Cazenove Capital Management. The other members are two college estates bursars, Ben Ruck Keene and Tom Seaman, and the Vice-Chancellor. The Director of Finance, Giles Kerr, and the Head of Treasury, Steve Howarth, attend all meetings.

The committee's first task will be the appointment of a Chief Investment Officer (CIO), which is expected to take several months. The CIO will establish a small investment office to manage and develop the University endowment fund of £900m.

The colleges manage their own endowments, which total around £2.7 billion, independently. It is likely that a structure will be put in place to allow colleges to invest in the University's pools should they so wish.

The focus on investment which the new investment office will provide is part of a drive to increase Oxford's income. Other strategies include increased fundraising activity and better cost recovery.

In 2005 the University's ruling Council asked a working group chaired by the then chairman of the investment committee (Sir Alan Budd, economist and Provost of Queen's College) to prepare a report on the management of the University's funds. The report recommended that the committee should have a chair with professional fund management experience and a majority of members involved professionally in fund management.

Sir Alan said: 'It is great news for Oxford that Richard Oldfield has agreed to chair the investment committee. His experience in the field will be of immense value to the University. He has assembled an outstanding team to support him in this great endeavour.'

Richard Oldfield said: 'I am delighted to be taking this on, with marvellous colleagues on the committee. It is a great challenge. I am sure that setting up an in-house investment office is the right move. The key to the future will be finding a really excellent Chief Investment Officer, and that is our first task.'