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Harvard Trader Zuzic Quits, Said to Join Gates’s Fund Manager

Stan Zuzic, one of Harvard University’s top-paid endowment managers, quit and joined the firm that oversees investments for Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Zuzic resigned from the world’s richest college last month after 11 years, according to an internal Harvard memo obtained by Bloomberg News. He is now at BGI, the Kirkland, Washington- based firm that manages money for the Gates Foundation, according to a person with knowledge of the move.

Zuzic, formerly a senior vice president with Harvard’s U.S. stock group, was the school’s third highest-paid manager in 2008, making $4.9 million. He’s the latest manager to leave since Jane Mendillo became chief executive officer of Boston-based Harvard Management in July 2008 and reshuffled staff. She promoted bond manager Stephen Blyth to head the fund’s internal investment team and expanded the group last year.

The Gates Foundation, run by 27-year Microsoft veteran Jeff Raikes, is the wealthiest charitable institution in the U.S., with $35.2 billion in assets as of March 31. The foundation, which funds education and health initiatives, is receiving the majority of billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s holdings in Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Buffett, ranked the second-richest American by Forbes magazine after Gates, is donating the holdings in annual installments, which will continue after his death.

Zuzic didn’t return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment. Michael Larson, who runs BGI, didn’t return phone calls. Christine Heenan, a spokeswoman for Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, declined to comment on Zuzic’s departure.

Endowment Decline

“In my experience at HMC, from the depths of the financial crisis to today, we have benefited from Stan’s uniquely logical way of synthesizing information to bring clarity to even the most complicated problems,” Mendillo wrote in the internal memo. “Stan is leaving to pursue an exciting new opportunity that promises to be a great fit with his considerable talents.”

The university’s endowment dropped a record 30 percent to $26 billion in the year ended June 30 as investments declined 27 percent. Following the loss, Mendillo reduced the influence of independent firms that oversee two-thirds of the fund for the university.

Last year, Mendillo fired about 50 employees and hired hedge-fund executives Emil Dabora and Mark McKenna from Caxton Associates LLC and Michele Toscani, a managing director for Fortress Investment Group LLC in Tokyo. She named Neil Mason chief risk officer in January.

Blyth was Harvard’s highest-paid manager in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, receiving $6.4 million. He was followed by Marc Seidner, managing director for domestic fixed income, with $6.3 million. Seidner was hired by Pacific Investment Management Co. last year.

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