PRI confirms departure of Mariner’s Ezzes from hedge fund advisory committee

Departure of senior hedge fund executive from PRI committee

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has confirmed the departure of hedge fund executive Steve Ezzes from its hedge fund advisory committee.

Responsible Investor can also report that Ezzes has left his role as Managing Director at Mariner Investment Group, a New York-based hedge fund that has around $11bn. Mariner is majority owned by ORIX, the Japanese financial services firm that also majority owns Dutch sustainable asset manager Robeco.

The PRI created the advisory committee in 2011 to determine the extent to which the PRI’s principles are compatible with short-term oriented hedge fund investing. It comprises industry figures such as Paulus Ingram and Marta Jankovic of APG Asset Management, Edward Mason of the Church Commissioners for England and Jarkko Matilainen of Finland’s Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company.

According to a PRI spokeswoman in London, Ezzes left the committee when he left Mariner late last month. Mariner’s representative on the nine-member committee, which has been renamed the PRI’s ‘Hedge Fund Steering Committee’ is now Akila Prabhakar, Deputy ESG Officer at Mariner. Ezzes declined to comment for this article.

Mariner signed up to the PRI in September 2013 and features its logo prominently on its home page and, unusually for a hedge fund, outlines its responsible investment strategy there, Responsible Investor has learnt that prior to his departure from Mariner and the PRI, Ezzes faced legal trouble in the US. There’s no suggestion that the lawsuit is linked with Ezzes’ departure from Mariner or the PRI.

According to court papers seen by Responsible Investor, Ezzes was a defendant in a case relating to a failed California asset management venture called ‘SageMill.’

SageMill fell through in July 2012 after the Abu Dhabi Investment Company (IAD) decided to not become half-owner of the venture. The collapse of SageMill prompted a lawsuit from two former partners in the venture.

A decision to have the case dismissed was overturned by an appellate court in Los Angeles in March 2015.

Since then, plaintiffs Adam Klotz and Richard Spitz have told RI that they have settled their lawsuit against Ezzes – though they did not disclose the terms of that settlement. RI understands, however, that Ezzes was not involved financially in the settlement.

It comes as the PRI has now reached 975 asset manager signatories, including most recently names such as Brandes Investment Partners, the $27.2bn investment advisory firm, and Western Asset Management Company, the California-based fixed income specialist with $446bn under management.