Prudential Said to Hire Ex-Morgan Stanley Strategist

Prudential Financial Inc. added Gregory Peters as a portfolio manager as the No. 2 U.S. life insurer extends its push into asset management with another Wall Street hire, according to a person familiar with the move.

Peters, 46, will manage client funds at the Newark, New Jersey-based firm, according to the person who asked not to be identified because the hiring hasn’t been announced. Peters left last year as chief cross-asset strategist at Morgan Stanley.

Prudential has been recruiting Wall Street talent as the insurer works to add assets to build fee income. The company hired Robert Cignarella from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in November as global co-head of leveraged finance. Prudential has announced other additions from Morgan Stanley, including Alfonso Munk and Adriana Drulla Rossi in Latin America.

Peters warned in 2007 that mortgage losses risked causing a financial crisis. He said in November of that year that there was a greater than 50 percent chance that home-loan declines would cause a systemic shock, bringing the financial system to a “grinding halt.”

Reuters reported his hiring earlier today. Theresa Miller, a Prudential spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Life insurers have been expanding in asset management as low bond yields weigh on profits from the coverage. MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, is building a unit to oversee real estate bets for third-party clients and entered a joint venture with Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. Asset management can require less capital than retirement contracts such as annuities at a time when regulators and investors have been pushing the industry to limit risks.

Insurer Principal Financial Group Inc. said in September that junk debt and emerging-market securities are among assets that can help generate more fees than betting on U.S. stocks.

At Morgan Stanley, Peters provided views on assets classes from equities to commodities and currencies. Before joining the New York-based bank in 2000, he worked as a strategist at Salomon Smith Barney and as a bank regulator at the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision.

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