MassMutual’s Barings Taps Freno as CEO, Finke Leaves Top Job

Barings, the asset management unit of MassMutual, has appointed Mike Freno as chairman and chief executive officer.

Tom Finke, currently chairman and CEO, will retire from the firm at the end of November, Barings said in a statement Thursday. He will join Invesco Ltd.’s board of directors in December, according to a separate announcement.

Freno, who has been at Barings since 2005, was tapped as president of the firm in February. In an interview following the announcement, he said that that the money manager has significant momentum heading into 2021 despite headwinds due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will continue its geographic expansion and growing strategic business units.

“We’ve got a large presence in Asia, and I think there are things that we can add onto our capability set in the region,” Freno said. “We’re going to continue to focus on permanent capital vehicles, as well as our expanding our private asset capabilities.”

Long-Term Bets

Uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak is prompting the firm to double down on its long-term investment thesis, according to the executive.

“There’s always a level of uncertainty -– there is more this year -– but our job as long-term, long-focused investors is to pick the right properties, pick the right companies, pick the right debt and focus on that long-term nature,” Freno said.

The money manager has seen a robust amount of origination activity in its private debt business in the U.S. and Europe, the new CEO said. The real estate side, while less active, has also provided opportunities for transactions, he added.

Freno previously led the formation of the firm’s global high-yield team. Barings invests across public and private fixed-income, real estate and equity markets, and had about $354 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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