Robert Mercer, the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies who burst onto the national political scene last year as Donald Trump’s kingmaker, is resigning his post as of January 1.
Mercer announced the move in an e-mail to employees. The news was first reported by Bloomberg. Brown will take over as CEO of the East Setauket, New York-based quantitative hedge fund firm, which manages $50 billion. Mercer will stay at the firm doing technical research.
Mercer’s far-right Republican beliefs were at odds with the views of his co-CEO Peter Brown and founder Jim Simons, who retired in 2010. Both men are Democrats, and Simons was a major donor to political organizations supporting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
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A longtime donor to Republicans, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah took over Trump’s campaign last summer, as it began to falter. They installed both Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, both of whom had worked with them, into the campaign.
The Mercers worked with Bannon on several political causes, including controversial Breitbart News, which is now taking on the Republican establishment as it seeks to replace incumbents in next year’s Congressional elections. Mercer said he is selling his stake in Breitbart to his daughters, according to the Bloomberg report.
In the e-mail to staff, Mercer told employees that he has received “a great deal of scrutiny” from the press and sought to correct what he called “misinformation” about his relationship with Bannon.
“The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon's. I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him,” Mercer wrote. “However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon's.”
Mercer expanded on his political views in the email, explaining why he supports “conservatives, who favor a smaller, less powerful government” but offering the caveat, “It is not my intention to impose the views I describe below on anyone else.”
Those views had been a source of consternation for some employees, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The paper earlier this year reported on former Renaissance Technologies executive David Magerman, who was suspended without pay after openly criticizing Mercer’s views in an interview with the publication.
The firm is best known for its flagship Medallion Fund, which has been closed to external investors for years. It also manages the Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund, which has gained 15 percent this year; the Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha Fund, up 10.5 percent for the year; and the Renaissance Institutional Diversified Global Equities Fund, up 14 percent this year.
A spokesman for Renaissance declined to comment.