Goldman Sachs Names Avanessians to Head Quant Funds, Hires PanAgora’s Hua

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said new managers will run the quantitative funds unit and that Katinka Domotorffy is retiring after 13 years at the firm.

Armen Avanessians, a partner who has served on the securities division’s executive committee since 2003, will head the global quantitative business within asset management, the New York-based company said in a letter to clients yesterday. Ron Hua, who oversaw $12 billion of equity assets at PanAgora Asset Management Inc., was hired as chief investment officer and head of the quantitative equity alpha business.

Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 56, is aiming to build the firm’s fund-management unit and improve its performance. The business had $844 billion under management at the end of June and generated 13 percent of the firm’s revenue in the first six months of this year.

Avanessians, who joined Goldman Sachs in 1985 and became a partner in 1994, is the latest executive to move into asset management from other parts of the bank. Jim O’Neill, the chief economist, was appointed chairman of asset management last year. The investment unit’s co-heads, Timothy J. O’Neill and Edward C. Forst, came from other divisions.

Domotorffy took charge of the quant-funds unit, which uses computer models to pick securities to trade, after co-heads Mark Carhart and Raymond Iwanowski quit in March 2009. Carhart and Iwanowski had managed Goldman Sachs’s Global Alpha fund, which was the firm’s largest hedge fund before sustaining losses and client redemptions in 2007 and 2008.

Beta Strategies

Bill Fallon, who became chief investment officer and head of alpha strategies when Domotorffy took over, will cede the equity business to Hua and focus on quantitative macro funds, according to the letter. Don Mulvihill will remain chief investment officer and head of customized beta strategies, Goldman Sachs said. Both will report to Avanessians, who will be based in New York.

Avanessians will report to O’Neill and Forst, who signed the letter. Its contents were confirmed by Ed Canaday, a company spokesman. The moves were reported yesterday by Reuters.

Domotorffy joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 as a portfolio manager and researcher with the quantitative global macro and fixed-income teams, according to the letter. She became head of strategy for the quantitative investment strategies group in 2007 before taking the leadership role two years later.

Goldman Sachs gained $3.25, or 3.1 percent, to $107.79 at 1:18 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock had fallen 38 percent this year through yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harper in New York at charper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.

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