BlackRock Hires Harvard’s McKenna to Start Event-Driven Strategy

Jun 11, 2014 10:41 am ET

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- BlackRock Inc. hired Harvard Management Co.’s Mark McKenna to start an event-driven hedge fund as the world’s largest asset manager seeks to expand its alternative investment business.

McKenna, 43, will be based in New York and lead a new team focused on global events including corporate takeovers, divestitures, and management changes to generate returns, according to a memo dated June 9 provided by the company. He is expected to start a new fund this year and will report to Carl Eifler in hedge-fund strategies.

BlackRock’s Chief Executive Officer Laurence D. Fink, who built the firm through a series of acquisitions to $4.4 trillion, is turning to non-traditional investments to increase assets. BlackRock’s hedge funds manage more than $30 billion, according to the memo. Event-driven offerings led all hedge-fund strategies in growth last year as mergers and acquisitions and activist campaigns attracted investors, according to an April report by Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research Inc.

“There are still many more opportunities for BlackRock in the hedge fund space, including access to uncorrelated alpha strategies like event-driven equity,” Eifler and the global co- heads of BlackRock Alternative Investors Andy Stewart and Matt Botein said in the memo. “Mark’s addition to BAI continues to demonstrate BlackRock’s commitment to growing and investing in our platform.”

McKenna, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine force, joined the world’s largest school endowment in 2009 and co-founded and managed the event-driven strategy. Before Harvard Management, McKenna worked for six years at Caxton Associates LLC, and prior to that was a vice president in mergers and acquisitions at Citigroup Inc.

Harvard Management Co.’s president and chief executive officer Jane Mendillo said in an interview yesterday she’s resigning at the end of this year to pursue personal interests.