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Morning Brief: Mercer Resigns as Co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies

Robert Mercer, who had gained an outsize political profile for his financial support of President Trump’s campaign and his ties to Steve Bannon, will stay on at the firm but relinquish his management duties.

  • By Stephen Taub

In an announcement that had the hedge fund community buzzing, Robert Mercer resigned as co-chief executive officer of Renaissance Technologies, effective January 1, according to an e-mail he sent to colleagues. He will also resign from the board of directors of the $50 billion computer-driven hedge fund firm but remain as a member of its technical staff. Peter Brown will continue to serve as CEO.

Mercer and his daughter Rebekah have received a torrent of criticism for their support of Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist previously known for his leading role at alt-right crusading website Brietbart News, and Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial right-wing writer who formerly worked for Breitbart. In the e-mail, Mercer said he has “great respect” for Bannon but agreed to sell his stake in Breitbart to his daughters. He also defended his support for Yiannopoulus, but said he is severing ties with him, calling his support a mistake.

“Actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate,” Merver wrote, explaining his support was to champion free speech. He also criticized the media, asserting, “Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group.”

In the letter, Mercer reminded his colleagues that at 71 he is the same age that founder Jim Simons was when he retired from Renaissance several year ago. “I do not plan to retire, but I do plan to relinquish my management responsibilities,” he stressed. Renaissance took in about $1 billion in assets in November despite reports that some investors were unhappy with Mercer’s political views. Its total assets now exceed $50 billion. Through October, its three funds that are open to investors are up between 10.5 percent and 15 percent.

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Och-Ziff Capital Management Group’s flagship fund continues to be among the best-performing multistrategy funds this year. Its OZ Master Fund rose another 1.75 percent in October, boosting its gain for the year to 11.66 percent. OZ Asia Master fund fared better, rising 5.06 percent last month and 24.02 percent for the year. On the other hand, OZ Europe Master Fund slipped 0.39 percent last month, trimming its gain for the year to 4.39 percent. Despite the strong performance at the flagship and Asia funds, firm-wide assets last month only rose by $200 million, to $32 billion.

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Tiger Global Management participated in the $100 million Series E funding of InVision, which offers a digital product design collaboration tool. This is at least the third time Tiger Global has made an investment in the company, according to TechCrunch.

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Shares of Apple jumped more than 2 percent in after-hours trading after the iPhone and iPad maker reported quarterly earnings that exceeded expectations. At the end of the second quarter, Apple had at least 136 hedge fund investors, tied for fifth-most, according to Goldman Sachs.

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