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Mohamed A. El-Erian, a top bond manager at Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), will oversee the management of Harvard’s $25.9 billion endowment, the University announced today.
El-Erian, 47, manages $28 billion of emerging market debt as chief of the emerging market portfolio team at PIMCO.
He will take the helm of the Harvard Management Company (HMC) early next year while HMC board member Peter A. Nadosy ’68 manages the endowment in the interim.
The announcement comes two weeks after the departure of former endowment chief Jack R. Meyer, who left after 15 years at Harvard with a team of top HMC executives to form a new hedge fund, Convexity Capital Management.
In an interview today, El-Erian called his future task of managing the University’s coffers a "truly unique opportunity" and said he looks forward to maintaining the endowment’s position as the largest in higher education.
In an interview today, El-Erian said he was drawn by the chance to work and interact with the Harvard community, as well as the HMC staff.
But the CEO position at HMC has attracted intense scrutiny in the past over issues like the compensation of Harvard’s fund managers—a phenomenon El-Erian said he is well aware of.
"It’s very transparent and explicit that this is a fishbowl," El-Erian said. "I’ve come in with full recognition that this is part of the job."
El-Erian’s resume includes work at Salomon Smith Barney and 15 years at the International Monetary Fund. He is highly visible in the world of emerging markets.
"He’s probably the most high-profile emerging markets investor in the world, right now," said Benjamin J. Heller ’94, managing director at HBK Investments and a Crimson editor. "If there’s somebody who’s the public face of the emerging markets asset class, it’s Mohamed."
El-Erian, a graduate of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, today recalled memories of watching Harvard football in a freezing stadium as a young boy in the late 1960s.
"You can think of me as an admiring observer of Harvard and I’m now thrilled to be part of the community," he said.
While HMC has traditionally operated at arm’s length from the University, El-Erian expressed eagerness to forge closer ties, "connecting the pipes from Harvard Management to the Harvard community."
To this end, El-Erian will join the faculty of Harvard Business School.
The appointment of El-Erian to the CEO seat concludes a search that stretched over 10 months. With no chief named upon Meyer’s departure two weeks ago, Nadosy, a former president of Morgan Stanley Asset Management, was named interim chief investment officer.
In the coming months, El-Erian will wear "two hats" as he winds down his work at PIMCO, University Treasurer James R. Rothenberg ’68 said today.
As time passes, "the Harvard hat will begin to get bigger and the PIMCO hat will begin to get smaller," Rothenberg said.
Meyer and four of his outgoing colleagues will remain as advisors to HMC until they launch Convexity next year. Rothenberg said earlier this month that he expects Harvard to invest about $500 million of its endowment in the fund.
"They will be a continuing partnership as Harvard invests in their new fund," University President Lawrence H. Summers said today. "This has been a very, very cooperative transition."
—Check thecrimson.com throughout the weekend for updates.
—Staff writer Nicholas M. Ciarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Alexander H. Greeley can be reached at email@example.com.
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