Win Neuger’s Long Reign and Hasty Exit

Win Neuger was hastily shown the door yesterday, ending his tenure as CEO of PineBridge Investments, the former asset management group at AIG. Neuger joined AIG from Bankers Trust Company in 1995.

Win J. Neuger

This news didn’t make many waves, but it’s odd in several ways.

Neuger’s last day as CEO was yesterday, the same day the news was announced, which is an unusually quick exit for a CEO.  David Jiang, formerly of Bank of New York Mellon, was named the new CEO. Neuger will serve as vice chairman.  Sudden executive movements are generally discouraged in the asset management world because they make clients nervous.  Clients want fund managers watching their money, not printing new business cards.

Neuger guided PineBridge through its separation from AIG and acquisition by Hong Kong-based Pacific Century Group in 2010.  And while his eventual departure was assumed following the acquisition, it doesn’t appear the company announced a CEO search or timetable for a succession, which adds to the sense of surprise around the news.

The company’s news release also omits a quote from Neuger, which is a fairly standard feature of these kinds of announcements and suggests Neuger might not have been happy about the news.   Perhaps Neuger balked at a board proposal to have him stay on as CEO for an interim period while Jiang got his feet under him.  It’s hard to know.

Neuger, a genial Midwesterner, was a somewhat controversial figure.  He headed the securities lending unit at AIG, which ran into trouble when its investments in risky mortgage securities went sour, an episode detailed in reports here and here.

The announcement also suggests the CEO will be based in Asia, continuing a shift of top PineBridge management to the region since the acquisition by Pacific Century.  That, too, could be an issue for some clients, but PineBridge said little to address such concerns.

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