Bridgewater Associates named two new co-chief executives to head the world’s largest hedge fund on Monday, after CEO David McCormick told staff he would be stepping down to consider running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.
Bridgewater elevated to co-CEO deputy chief executive Nir Bar Dea, 40 years old, along with former Aetna Chief Executive Mark Bertolini, 65, who has been a member of Bridgewater’s board for three years, according to a memo to Bridgewater employees that was released publicly.
The announcement formalizes a transition many were expecting given Mr. McCormick’s political ambition. In December, he put out an ad touting his military record and family Christmas-tree farm that all but declared his candidacy in the Republican primary.
Founded by Ray Dalio, who is known for an unorthodox management style known as radical transparency, Bridgewater manages about $150 billion.
It has been plagued in recent years by poor performance, with its flagship Pure Alpha macro fund posting its worst monthly loss in Bridgewater’s history in March 2020. In a letter to investors at the time, Mr. Dalio wrote that the coronavirus hit the firm “at the worst possible moment” because it was positioned for market gains.
Pure Alpha recovered somewhat to end 2020 down 7.6%, but still lost the ability to charge performance fees to clients invested at the start of the year. A more leveraged version lost 12.6%.
Pure Alpha, which bets on and against asset classes world-wide including interest rates, commodities and equities, gained 8.1% for 2021 through Dec. 29, with nearly all of that coming in December, according to people familiar with Bridgewater. The gain is well short of increases last year in some commodities and stocks, but the fund’s December rebound means Bridgewater is likely close to or has already reached the point where it can start charging performance fees again to those clients who were invested at the start of 2020.
Mr. Bar Dea was promoted to deputy CEO under Mr. McCormick in early 2021 and previously was head of the firm’s “investment engine.” He joined Bridgewater in 2015. Mr. Bertolini led Aetna from 2010 to 2018 and became a director of CVS Health Corp. after CVS acquired Aetna in a $69 billion deal.
Write to Juliet Chung at [email protected]
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Appeared in the January 4, 2022, print edition as ‘Fund Picks Two to Share Job Of CEO.’