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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OppFunds Shrinks

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

OppenheimerFunds is getting slimmer. Company spokeswoman Jeaneen Pisarra confirmed that the New York City-based asset manager is laying off 220 employees this week, from five different locations: Bellefont, Pennsylvania; Boston; Denver; Manhattan; and Rochester, New York. Pisarra described the cuts as "across the board" and not targeted at (or away from) any particular units of the mutual fund firm.

"It's really across the organization," Pisarra told MFWire. "The decision to reduce our workforce across the firm was made to align our staffing with business plans. The staff reductions will allow us to operate more efficiently."

The layoffs affect about eight percent of OppenheimerFunds' work force. At least two retirement unit employees were included. To find out more about the layoff's impact on OppFunds' DC business, read our sister publication, The 401kWire (see The 401kWire, 1/27/2009).

The cuts come as OppFunds affiliate Tremont Group Holdings reportedly shuts down its Rye Investment Management division, a single-manager hedge fund unit that had $3.1 billion and invested with Bernie Madoff. Tremont also faces a $190 million loss of its own funds of hedge funds, thanks to Madoff. The firm described the move to shutter Rye as one piece of a bigger structural shift "to reflect market conditions and the reduced amount of assets under management."

On another front, OppFunds has reportedly already lost at least one 529 bond fund mandate, Oregon, thanks to 2008 losses of 38 percent in the Oppenheimer Core Bond Fund. That news followed word of several executive changes on OppFunds' fixed income team; core plus team leader Angelo Manioudakis reportedly resigned on December 12, and Art Steinmetz took over from Jerry Webman as director of fixed income earlier this month (see MFWire, 12/16/2008 and 1/9/2009).

OppenheimerFunds also just finished a leadership transition at the very top. CEO John Murphy stepped aside on January 1, passing the reins to William F. Glavin, Jr. (see MFWire, 11/21/2008). Murphy will continue to serve as OppFunds' chairman through the end of this year. 

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