Harvard Endowment Again Trims Staff Amid Continued Restructuring

Jun 20 2016 | 6:31pm ET

Michael Ryan, head of public markets and absolute return strategies for Harvard Management Company, has left the firm amid a further shakeup of the storied $37 billion endowment.  

In addition to Ryan’s departure, HMC’s internal equity team will be further trimmed, according to a Bloomberg article citing an internal email. The fund will increase its reliance on outside managers to make stock picks while looking for a new head of absolute return and public market funds, the memo said, while natural resources chief Rene Canezin will assume broader responsibilities to include the public markets platform.

In the meantime, Elise McDonald, currently managing director of HMC’s portfolio strategy, will oversee the AR and public markets group.

The memo was reportedly written by Robert Ettl, who is serving as the interim chief executive of HMC. CEO Stephen Blyth, who initiated a wide-ranging overhaul to the country’s largest endowment when he arrived at HMC in January of last year, went on medical leave in May. 

The precise amount of funds that will be shifted to external managers was not disclosed in the memo, nor was the number of additional personnel cuts expected within the equity unit. “We continuously evaluate how we can best allocate capital and leverage HMC's comparative advantages to maximize performance over the long-term," said an HMC spokesman in a statement. 

Additional details, such as the timing of the cuts, were not available.

HMC has been steadily restructuring since Blyth took over in 2015 amid harsh criticism about years of underwhelming portfolio returns. Eight positions within the public equities unit were eliminated earlier this year, noted Bloomberg, while the endowment’s head of alternative investments, Andrew Wiltshire, retired last year and natural resources head Alvaro Aguirre left in September. Although unrelated to the restructuring efforts, portfolio managers Marco Barrozo and Satu Parikh left in October to form their own fund, HSQ Capital.

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