(Bloomberg) -- Robert Mercer, the co-chief executive officer of Renaissance Technologies, told investors Thursday that he’s stepping down from his role after almost a quarter-century at the $50 billion hedge fund.
Mercer’s political projects and affiliations with Stephen Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News, and former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos have cast a shadow on the firm, putting it in the cross-hairs of a group that in recent weeks has been pressuring universities and pension funds to pull their money. Mercer, who until now has kept silent on the scrutiny, addressed the tensions head-on in a letter to staff.
These are the main takeaways, or read the full letter here.
- On his politics: “I believe that individuals are happiest and most fulfilled when they form their own opinions, assume responsibility for their own actions, and spend the fruits of their own labor as they see fit,” he said. “I believe that a collection of individuals making their own decisions within the confines of a clear and concise set of laws that they have determined for themselves will advance society much more effectively than will a collection of experts who are confident in their knowledge of what is best for everyone else. This is why I support conservatives, who favor a smaller, less powerful government.”
- On accusations of bigotry: “Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group,” he wrote. “Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, or anything of that sort is abhorrent to me. But more than that, it is ignorant.”
- On Bannon: “I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him,” he said. “However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.” He later added, “For personal reasons, I have also decided to sell my stake in Breitbart News to my daughters.”
- On Yiannopoulos: “Actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate” by originally backing the writer, he said. “I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.”
- On his future: “I am 71 years old, the same age that Jim Simons was when he retired. I do not plan to retire, but I do plan to relinquish my management responsibilities,” he said. “I will continue with the firm as a member of its technical staff, focusing on the research work that I find most fulfilling.”
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.