Citadel Names Microsoft’s Turner to Lead Securities Unit

  • Announcement comes as firms seek to build technology expertise
  • Bridgewater in March hired a long-time Apple executive

Citadel, the investment firm run by Chicago billionaire Kenneth Griffin, hired Kevin Turner, the chief operating officer at Microsoft Corp., to run its securities unit as finance firms seek to help build their technology expertise.

Turner, who oversaw more than 51,000 employees and drove sales and marketing efforts of Office 365 at Microsoft, will join Citadel after a short transition period, the Chicago-based firm said Thursday in a statement. Turner, 51, was once in the running to replace former Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

Kevin Turner

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Turner rose up the ranks first at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and built a reputation for bringing discipline to operations and delivering motivational speeches with folksy maxims at sales events at Microsoft. He will run the Citadel unit as the financial industry seeks an edge through the use of computers, big data analysis and artificial intelligence.

"There’s a lot of tech in the brokerage business these days," said Kevin Buttigieg, a technology analyst at MKM Partners LLC. "It’s obviously a different business but he does have a very diverse background. He’s got a deep background in operations at Wal-Mart."

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Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates in March hired Jon Rubinstein, one of the creators of the iPod and a long-time deputy of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, as co-CEO.

Citadel last month said it hired Steve Lieblich, a three-decade Morgan Stanley technology veteran, as chief technology officer of the firm’s hedge-fund business, reporting to Griffin.

The firm has been expanding its securities business as banks retreat, and is one of the largest market makers -- the industry term for traders who facilitate others’ transactions -- in assets like stocks. In May, it bought a stock-trading business from Citigroup Inc. Citadel has long invested in technology, having built its options-market-making business starting in 2002.

“Citadel is a global technology leader, recognized for its work to level the playing field for investors and make markets more fair, transparent and efficient,” Turner said in the statement. “I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we grow this global business."

Turner had spent 11 years as COO at Microsoft. He joined the firm in 2005 and had previously worked at Wal-Mart, where he joined as a cashier. At age 29, he was named the youngest corporate executive in Wal-Mart’s history.

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