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Rating:At Calamos, There's Still Such Thing as a Free Lunch Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, February 09, 2009

At Calamos, There's Still Such Thing as a Free Lunch

by: Armie Margaret Lee

John P. Calamos, Sr., chairman, CEO and CIO of the publicly traded Calamos Asset Management, talked to The Chicago Tribune in an interview published Sunday about how his firm is coping with the market slump. One of the richest men in America, Calamos also told the pub that he hopes to continue the company's tradition of providing free lunch to employees. But "you never know with what's going on," he added.

The Naperville, Illinois-based company, which went public five years ago, saw its stock plunge more than 70 percent over the past year to less than $6. AUM fell to $24 billion, a level it had not seen since 2003. The firm has slashed its quarterly divided and last month cut 47 jobs, representing about 12 percent of its workforce (see The MFWire, 01/12/09).

"Assets under management and income are tied together, so we've had to restructure the overhead and look carefully at how we're set up," the 68-year-old executive said.

The company posted a $26 million loss in the fourth quarter, versus with net income of $9.2 million in the year-ago period (see The MFWire, 01/28/09). Mutual fund AUM totaled $17.49 billion at the end of 2008, down from $34.83 billion in 2007.

In a call with analysts on January 27, Calamos said the firm has "enough capital to continue funding growth opportunities in our ongoing investment strategies."

For those not familiar with Calamos' background, the Tribune offers plenty of details. The son of grocery store owners, Calamos caught the investment bug in the 1950s when he found some stock certificates. His mother allowed him to invest some of the family savings in the stock and bond markets.

Calamos, who earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in business administration, also spent five years in the Air Force, including a one-year tour in Vietnam. While at the Air Force in the '60s, convertible bonds caught his eye. He started his company in 1977 and says he has no plans to leave his post as CEO.

It "remains to be seen" whether Calamos' nephew Nick will succeed him in that role, Calamos said.

The elder Calamos shares the CIO role with Nick. One of Calamos' two children, John P. Calamos Jr., is on the portfolio management team.  

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