Stockholm (HedgeNordic) – Birger Durhuus (pictured) will be resigning his position as CEO of Asgard Asset Management by the end of the year. Durhuus, who had joined Asgard in 2015 from Danske Capital, where he was Head of External Solutions & Risk Management, will be succeeded by Kasper Ullegaard.
Ullegaard, who will assume his new role on November 1st, previously held senior positions with large Danish financial institutions, most recently at Danske Bank, where he is responsible for ESG Advisory – Institutional Banking. He also previously worked at Sampension, where he spent over nine years as head of fixed income. “We have known Kasper for a long time and he was an obvious choice to take the helm in this period,” Durhuus tells HedgeNordic.
The firm’s flagship fund, Asgard Fixed Income Fund, is down by 16 percent year-to-date through the end of August, quadrupling the previous largest annual loss from 2008. “I am aware I am leaving the company just when fixed income managers as Asgard are facing their worst drawdowns in decades,” Durhuus acknowledges but stresses that there was no link between the current drawdowns and his departure. “I have been at Asgard for seven years, which is a typical interval for me to be starting something new. The decision to leave now actually was already taken two years ago, and just had a slow execution.”
Durhuus believes that the effects most top managers have on a company diminish over time. “Setting a ship in motion typically takes three to four years. After that, it is a lot of supervision and oversight and less exciting, smooth sailing.” Durhuus is confident the asset management firm and its funds are set up to withstand the current turmoil and that the portfolios actually look promising, possibly stronger than coming out of 2008: “The turmoil in the markets for covered bonds and cross-currency basis spreads has created opportunities seldom seen since the financial crisis. The current portfolios of the funds now have an expected return of more than 17% p.a. assuming unchanged market valuations. This is the thing with fixed income instruments, if you manage to hold on to them, you are awarded with fantastic features.”
Durhuus has no next-career move lined up. “I have taken on some board seats over the last years so maybe I can expand my portfolio. More likely I will be doing more projects and tasks than “a job”. I will spend the remainder of the year securing a smooth handover to my successor, whilst at the same time figuring out what lies ahead for me in the new year” he closes.