Crawford, 65, told the company of his plans last year and the assets he oversees will gradually be handed to other managers at the firm, Chuck Freadhoff, a spokesman for Capital Group, said in a telephone interview.
“Mr. Crawford told me his plans include playing more golf and spending time with his grandkids,” Freadhoff said. “This is a retirement.”
Crawford is part of the teams that run three mutual funds at Capital Group’s American Funds unit, including the $129 billion Growth Fund of America. He focused on media holdings and is known for seeking to influence key management decisions at the companies whose shares he bought.
Under Crawford, Capital Group accumulated the third-largest stake in Vancouver-based Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF), and supported the studio in fending off a hostile buyout bid by billionaire Carl Icahn. He also backed the company’s takeover of Summit Entertainment, owner of the “Twilight” vampire films, and its efforts to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
In an interview last month, after Lions Gate shares had almost doubled, he credited the studio with developing “a very good creative team in film and television” and said the company is “going to be a major some day.”
‘He Was Anomalous’
At a firm whose fund managers rarely make their investment views known publicly, Crawford stood out.
“He was anomalous with American Funds,” Kevin McDevitt, an analyst at fund research firm Morningstar Inc. (MORN), said in a telephone interview. “The personalities they tend to attract are people who don’t seek the limelight.”
Crawford broke publicly with then Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang in 2008 for rejecting a $47.5 billion takeover bid by Microsoft Corp., telling the Wall Street Journal he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision.
He was instrumental in the January 2003 departure of Stephen Case as chairman of AOL Time Warner Inc. after a decline in the stock, and in 2001 he dumped all of his company’s 66 million Walt Disney Co. shares in displeasure over CEO Michael Eisner’s performance.
Crawford, whose retirement plans were reported earlier by Reuters, also helps manage the firm’s $20.1 billion Smallcap World Fund and the $7.7 billion New Economy Fund, which focused on information technology companies.
American Funds typically uses five to 10 managers, each working independently, to oversee assets in its funds. Managers pick securities based on company-focused research and emphasize long-term returns.
McDevitt estimated that Crawford managed 8 percent to 12 percent of Growth Fund of America.
“I don’t think his departure will have that big an impact on the fund, which is just a reflection of how the portfolio is dispersed,” he said.
Amid the growing popularity of index-based investing, investors have withdrawn about $190 billion from American Funds since the beginning of 2008, according to data compiled by research firm Morningstar Inc.
Crawford, a native of Greenwich, Connecticut, is chairman of Southern California Public Radio and a major donor to Los Angles station KPCC, Freadhoff said.
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