Fidelity Names Abigail Johnson, BNY's O'Hanley Presidents

Fidelity Investments, the world’s largest mutual-fund manager, named Abigail P. Johnson and Ronald P. O’Hanley to top roles after splitting responsibility for running the company.

Abigail Johnson, the daughter of Chairman Edward C. Johnson III, will oversee all customer- and client-focused businesses as president of the personal, workplace and institutional unit, Boston-based Fidelity said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. O’Hanley, 53, who is joining from Bank of New York Mellon Corp., where he oversaw money management, will become president of asset management and corporate services.

Fidelity created two distinct units as the company has expanded beyond managing mutual funds into stock trading and retirement planning and institutional money management. In their new roles, Abigail Johnson and O’Hanley take over responsibilities previously held by Rodger Lawson, who stepped down at the end of March.

“Fidelity is such a diverse organization that one person being in charge wasn’t very realistic to begin with,” Geoff Bobroff, an independent consultant in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, said in an interview. “Dividing up the company along these lines seems to make sense.”

Both executives will report to Ned Johnson, who turns 80 in June. Ned Johnson, who has led the company since 1977, has given no indication that he plans to retire soon, and has left open the question of who will succeed him.

Successor Speculation

At various times, Johnson’s daughter, as well as Robert L. Reynolds, the former chief operating officer, and Ellyn McColgan, the former head of mutual-fund sales, have been considered by analysts to be possible successors. Reynolds left in 2007 and the next year became chief executive officer of Boston-based fund manager Putnam Investments LLC.

Fidelity, which manages $1.5 trillion in investor assets, has been controlled by the Johnson family since it was founded by Johnson’s father in 1946.

“This new structure will position Fidelity strategically for the future by bringing all of the firm’s distribution resources together,” Ned Johnson said in the statement. “Ron O’Hanley will bring valuable asset management and executive experience to our investing and corporate functions as well as a strong leadership track record.”

Abigail Johnson, 48, has led different units at Fidelity over the past decade. In 2001, she was named head of the firm’s mutual-fund division. She was put in charge of the Fidelity’s retirement business in 2005 and in September 2007, the company gave her additional responsibilities, giving her oversight of corporate-retirement services and fund sales to individuals.

Executive Search

Jacques Perold, the head of Fidelity Management & Research Co., the firm’s mutual-fund unit, will report to O’Hanley, who oversaw more than $1 trillion as leader of BNY Mellon’s asset- management unit.

The executive search that led to O’Hanley’s appointment was done by Goldsmith & Co. in New York.

Fidelity, along with other asset managers, suffered from client withdrawals during the global financial crisis in 2008.

Earnings rebounded last year as the company cut expenses and assets under administration rose. Fidelity’s assets under administration climbed 23 percent to $3.2 trillion in 2009, including accounts for which it provides services such as recordkeeping. Operating income, which excludes interest and taxes, rose 5.2 percent last year to $2.52 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam in Boston at sbhaktavatsa@bloomberg.net.

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