Prudential’s Kay Willcox Retires From $19 Billion Bond Role

Dec 19, 2013 4:24 pm ET

(Updates shares in the last paragraph.)

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Prudential Financial Inc. said Richard Piccirillo will take on additional duties as Kay Willcox retires from overseeing more than $19 billion in bonds for institutional clients.

Willcox, 60, senior portfolio manager of the core fixed- income strategy, plans to step down in the second half of 2014, the Newark, New Jersey-based company said today in a statement. Piccirillo, 47, a portfolio manager, will help with the transition, and “take a lead role when she retires,” Prudential said.

Prudential, the No. 2 U.S. life insurer, manages more than $1 trillion of client and insurance company assets, including $397 billion at the fixed-income unit as of Sept. 30, compared with $232 billion at the end of 2009. Chief Executive Officer John Strangfeld has been bolstering the asset-management business to add fee income.

Willcox’s “vast skill set and tireless dedication helped us achieve many of our successes,” James Sullivan, head of Prudential Fixed Income, said in the statement. “She has been a key contributor to the growth of our firm.”

Prudential Fixed Income last month hired Robert Cignarella from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as co-head of global leveraged finance, overseeing more than $33 billion. Frank Garcia joined Prudential Real Estate Investors from Deutsche Bank AG as a portfolio manager for the core property strategy, the firm said in August.

Investment-Grade

The core fixed-income strategy is actively managed and focuses on investment-grade bonds, Theresa Miller, a Prudential spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. It seeks to generate extra returns over the benchmark by making bets on specific industries and securities.

Willcox has specialized in mortgage-backed securities since joining Prudential in 1987. She previously managed bonds tied to the assets for the company’s U.S. liquidity team. With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas and an MBA in finance from Columbia University, Willcox started her investment career in 1982 in the futures division of Shearson Lehman Brothers.

Piccirillo, who has an MBA from New York University and a bachelor of business administration degree from George Washington University, was hired by Prudential in 1993 after starting in fixed-income at Smith Barney. He’s senior portfolio manager for the Short/Intermediate Core and Core Plus fixed- income strategies.

Prudential slipped 0.5 percent to $90.17 at 4:15 p.m. in New York. The stock has gained 69 percent this year, compared with the 59 percent advance at larger rival MetLife Inc.

--Editors: Dan Kraut, Steven Crabill