BlackRock Inc. (BLK)’s Chris Leavy, who’s been charged with improving the performance of the firm’s active stock funds, is taking medical leave starting today to treat his diabetes and a related cardiovascular condition.
Leavy, the 42-year-old chief investment officer for BlackRock’s fundamental stock unit in the Americas, has been advised to pursue full-time treatment to address his health issues, which are treatable, before returning to work, said Brian Beades, a spokesman for the New York-based firm. Quintin Price, who hired Leavy and is BlackRock’s global head of alpha strategies, will take over on an interim basis until Leavy returns, Beades said.
Since joining BlackRock in October 2010 from OppenheimerFunds Inc., Leavy has replaced portfolio managers at strategies representing about 40 percent of the division’s $115 billion under management. Last year, he added oversight of the large-capitalization stock funds previously led by former equity chief investment strategist Robert Doll. He’s hired portfolio managers including Bartlett Geer from Putnam Investments LLC and UBS AG’s Lawrence Kemp.
Despite becoming the world’s biggest money manager with $3.94 trillion in assets, BlackRock has struggled with its active stock unit as performance trailed peers and investors industrywide flocked to the perceived safety of bonds after the financial crisis. With investors anticipating a reversal of that trend with the end of the three-decade-long bond rally, BlackRock is relying on Leavy to boost its track record and position itself for a rebound in sales of stock funds.
Peter Stournaras, who has co-manged the large-cap funds since 2010, will run the funds while Leavy is recovering, Beades said. There will be no change to the investment objectives or strategies of the portfolios, he said.
“Chris is an outstanding investor and a valued colleague, and we wish him all the best while he takes a leave to take care of his health,” Beades said. “We’re fortunate to have a deep bench of talented investors who will be able to continue to focus on delivering for BlackRock’s clients during Chris’s leave.”
The institutional shares of the $887 million BlackRock Large Cap Value Fund (MALVX) have returned 17 percent this year, behind 55 percent of peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The $1.7 billion BlackRock Large Cap Core Fund (MALRX) returned 15 percent this year, trailing 60 percent of rivals.
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