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NISA Founders to Hand Down Ownership Stakes

The senior management running NISA are receiving equity from the asset manager’s CEO and president.

  • By Leanna Orr

The founders of NISA have agreed to transfer their majority ownership in the St. Louis-based asset manager to senior management, according to a company statement and letter to clients.

The firm’s chief executive officer and chairman, Jess Yawitz, will continue in his role, while president Bill Marshall expects to retire in 2018, the CEO said in a Nov. 13 client letter that NISA shared with Institutional Investor. Founded by Yawitz and Marshall in 1994, the firm will remain 100 percent owned by employees and will not take on any debt as a result of the change in ownership, according to a NISA statement the same day.

“There are no other changes occurring at NISA,” Yawitz said in the letter to clients. The CEO added that he would follow up with details on Marshall’s departure plan as it came together.

NISA Investment Advisors, which manages more than $250 billion of assets, specializes in liability-driven investing and de-risking strategies for pension plans.

Senior management aren’t borrowing to finance the equity stakes they’re receiving under the deal, expected to take effect at the start of 2019, according to the firm’s statement. In exchange for their equity, the firm said its two founders agreed to take “a long-term, non-voting preferred stake in NISA.”

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NISA’s senior team already runs the day-to-day operations. The most prominent member is David Eichhorn — managing director for investment strategies — who said the transaction was designed to put no operational or financial stress on the company, and to keep its culture intact.

The asset manager’s main office resembles a technology firm as much as a financial company: a mix of relatively young and dressed-down staff, free fresh meals, and highly technical work.

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