Penn hires new chief investment officer

Yale's Peter Ammon will start in July, bringing a number of years of experience at Yale and Princeton with him

· April 9, 2013, 2:47 pm

Peter Ammon, one of the directors of the nation’s second-largest university endowment, will serve as Penn’s next chief investment officer, the University announced Tuesday.

Ammon, who currently works in the Yale University Investments Office, will begin on July 1.

Ammon has been at Yale since 2005, working under CIO David Swensen. Swensen is widely regarded as one of the top endowment fund managers in the nation. Today, many institutions try to emulate the “Yale model,” which emphasizes investing in alternative asset classes like real estate, private equity and natural resources.

Penn has made a similar push in recent years to increase its alternative holdings.

“He has a fabulous track record — successful oversight of broad investment portfolios, including public and private equity, absolute return,” President Amy Gutmann said of Ammon. “We’re excited to have him.”

Prior to working at Yale, Ammon worked at the Princeton University Investment Company and earned degrees from both Yale and Princeton.

“I look forward to partnering with the Investment Board, senior leadership and talented staff of the Office of Investments to help Penn generate the resources to support the University’s mission,” Ammon said in a statement Tuesday.

Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said that while Ammon’s years of experience at Yale will be valuable for Penn, his selection should not necessarily be taken as a sign that Penn is moving increasingly in the Yale direction.

“It’s more about the general strength of the person as an investor, as a manager, as someone who can work within the University structure,” Carnaroli said.

Former CIO Kristin Gilbertson, who began at the University in 2004, announced in October 2012 that she would be stepping down from her position. David Harkins, Penn’s managing director of public markets, has been serving as Penn’s CIO on an interim basis since then.

Although Carnaroli said the University’s endowment “hasn’t missed a beat” under interim leadership, he is looking forward to “removing the anxiety” that has come with not having a permanent CIO for the past several months.

Penn’s endowment was valued at $6.8 billion as of June 30, 2012 — the close of the 2012 fiscal year. The University has produced a 7 percent annualized return over the past decade, compared to 9.5 and 10.6 percent returns at Harvard and Yale universities during the same time, respectively.

Harvard and Yale currently have the largest college or university endowments in the nation.

Ammon will become the third CIO in Penn’s history, succeeding Gilbertson and former CIO Landis Zimmerman.

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