James Anderson returns with Agnelli family backing

James Anderson, the maverick fund manager, is returning to full-time investing a year after retiring from Baillie Gifford and is teaming up with the Agnelli family holding company for an entrepreneurial venture.

Lingotto Investment Management, a new $3bn firm that is owned by Exor, has appointed Anderson to its team of investors. He will launch a new fund focused on innovation in both public and private markets, starting with about $500mn in assets.

John Elkann, chair of Stellantis and scion of the billionaire Agnelli industrial dynasty, told the Financial Times that his vision for Lingotto was to “provide a home for very talented investment management professionals to join a place which is entrepreneurial and much focused on letting them do what they’re good at and what they love”. 

He added: “We’re not saying we want to play in the alternatives space and we want to build a $100bn business in three years. That’s not the way we reflect. We feel there are very capable investors out there . . . and they don’t necessarily want to be part of a big platform and they don’t necessarily want to be alone.” 

Lingotto will be chaired by George Osborne, the former UK chancellor who is now a banker at boutique advisory firm Robey Warshaw. Osborne has been working with Elkann over the past five years as the chair of Exor’s partners’ council, a role he is stepping back from.

Anderson, 63, is chair of Swedish investment firm Kinnevik. But he is best known for the almost four decades he spent at Baillie Gifford, where he helped turn the Edinburgh-based private partnership into an unlikely star of tech investing through early bets on the likes of Tesla and Amazon.

During Anderson’s tenure as manager of Baillie Gifford’s flagship Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, from April 30 2000 to March 31 2022, the company gained 1,155 per cent against a 354 per cent return for its benchmark FTSE All-World index during the same period.

However, Scottish Mortage’s performance has soured since Anderson’s exit, which coincided with a regime change in monetary policy. Scottish Mortgage’s shares lost a third of their value in the 12 months to March 31 as growth stocks were curbed by higher interest rates.

Anderson, who at Baillie Gifford was a longtime shareholder in Exor companies, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari, acknowledged that “it’s been a difficult 18 months” for growth investing but said that the long-term opportunity in sectors including artificial intelligence, healthcare and renewable energy was greater than ever.

“One of the great puzzles to me is that markets have become so sceptical and short term at a time when the pace of innovation and change, and the prospects of returns over five, 10 and 20 years, has got greater than less,” he said.

He added: “It’s essential that we carry on investing in these sectors rather than worrying about what the Federal Reserve is going to do next.” 

The initial $3bn funding for the new venture will be split evenly between Exor and Covea, the French insurer. The joint investment into Lingotto comes out of the relationship built between the two companies after Covea agreed to buy Bermuda-based reinsurer PartnerRe from Exor in 2021 for $9bn. 

In addition to Anderson, Lingotto begins with two other managing partners who are already working at Exor. Matteo Scolari, who joined Exor in 2015 from hedge fund Eton Park, will run a hedge fund strategy focused on public equities investing.

Nikhil Srinivasan, who joined Exor in 2018 after serving as the chief investment officer at Generali and Allianz, will focus on shorter-duration investments in private companies and special situations. His fund was among the backers of a recent $130mn fundraising in UK biotech group Ascend, taking a near 7 per cent stake.

Anderson will continue to be based in Edinburgh but will also have an office in London where Lingotto is based. The company is led by Exor’s longtime chief financial officer Enrico Vellano. In time, it plans to raise money from external investors and add other portfolio managers to the venture.

“It’s an entrepreneurial project,” Vellano said. “We don’t want to judge success in terms of the size of assets under management but in terms of the quality. We want to find people who share our view about how to manage capital.”

Lingotto is named after the historic Fiat factory in Turin, which was inaugurated in 1923 and whose rooftop racetrack featured in the 1969 film The Italian Job.

Last year, Anderson donated $100mn to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins university in Bologna, one of the largest known donations to a university in continental Europe.

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