Martin Currie China Manager Out, Plans Return In Nov.

Aug 1 2011 | 1:26pm ET

Martin Currie has cut ties with top Asia hedge fund manager Chris Ruffle after determining that Ruffle had a conflict of interest.

Ruffle was removed from the management of Martin Currie's China Fund on Friday. The move was made following a November investment in Chinese printer cartridge maker Ugent Holdings. Martin Currie invests in Ugent's parent corporation.

"In light of recommendations made in those reviews, and following extensive dialogue with Chris Ruffle and with our regulators, Martin Currie has concluded that it must now part was with Chris Ruffle and consequently Mr. Ruffle will cease to perform a client portfolio management function for Martin Currie," CEO Willie Watt said in a statement.

Ruffle's co-manager, Ke Shifeng, will take over sole management of the fund—for now. Ruffle will not be on the shelf for long; he and Ke's Heartland Capital Management, which set up a China joint venture with Martin Currie five years ago, plans to buy out Martin Currie's interest in that venture in a deal expected to close in November.

Ruffle, who denies any wrongdoing, told Bloomberg News that he's working on the trading, legal and compliance systems of Heartland so that the firm will be "a fully-functioning, SEC-licensed fund management company" able to begin managing money for clients in November. Ke and the joint venture's 12 analysts based in Shanghai will be part of Heartland, although Martin Currie will retain the fund and its holdings.

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