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Columbia Returns -0.9 Percent with Narvekar, Next HMC Head

By Andrew M. Duehren and Daphne C. Thompson, Crimson Staff Writers

Incoming Harvard Management Company CEO N.P. Narvekar oversaw negative 0.9 percent returns on Columbia University’s investments during his last fiscal year on the job, outpacing Harvard’s negative 2 percent over the same time period.

The returns bring Columbia’s 10-year endowment performance to an annualized 8.1 percent, exceeding Harvard’s annualized 5.7 percent returns over the past decade. Columbia’s endowment—at $9 billion, roughly a quarter the size of Harvard’s $35.7 billion endowment—lost $600 million in value in fiscal year 2016. Narvekar, who will take the reins at Harvard’s investment arm in December, served as CEO of Columbia Investment Management Company during that time.

Harvard’s endowment decreased in value by nearly $2 billion in fiscal year 2016, a drop resulting from a combination of the negative returns and the $1.7 billion HMC paid out to fund the University’s annual operating budget. The “disappointing” endowment contraction will pressure Harvard’s budgets, University President Drew G. Faust said last month, adding that she was concerned by HMC’s lackluster investment performance compared to its peers.

Narvekar, who has overseen Columbia’s endowment since 2002, led the Columbia Investment Management Company to better returns than the HMC’s every year since the financial crisis. As HMC’s fourth CEO in 10 years, Narvekar will be tasked with evaluating and possibly restructuring the firm’s investment practices. In particular, he will arrive at HMC during a time when some University leaders, including Faust, wonder whether Harvard should retain outside funds to manage its money, emulating systems in place at many Ivy League endowments, including Columbia and Yale.

Harvard is so far next-to-last in the Ivy League for its fiscal year 2016 investment returns, beating only Cornell’s negative 3.3 percent returns. The University of Pennsylvania posted a 1.4 percent loss on its investments, Brown negative 1.1 percent returns, and Dartmouth negative 1.9 percent. Yale posted the only positive results in the conference—3.4 percent—and Princeton has not yet announced its returns.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.

—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.

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