Commonfund CIO Petzel Leaving to Start Azimuth Hed

WILTON, Conn. (HedgeWorld.com)--Commonfund Chief Investment Officer Todd Petzel will be stepping down from his post at the end of 2002 to start his own hedge fund firm called Azimuth Capital.

A well-known name in the alternative investment industry, Mr. Petzel has headed investments at Commonfund for six years. And even before being named CIO in 1996, Mr. Petzel had served on Commonfund's board for seven years, which overlapped with his past tenure as a senior manager at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

"Todd has done a phenomenal job for us over the years, but we understand that he feels he has found an opportunity that he couldn't refuse. We look forward to maintaining a relationship with him, and he will be staying on until the end of the year to make sure the transition is seamless," said John Griswold, executive director of the Commonfund Institute.

Only hours after announcing Mr. Petzel's impending departure, the firm began receiving inquiries from investment professionals. Mr. Griswold said the new chief executive could originate from outside of the Commonfund Group or come from an internal appointment.

"One of the distinguishing characteristics about Todd was that not only was he a capable investment manager, he was an excellent communicator and spokesman for Commonfund. Those are qualities we will be looking for in a replacement," Mr. Griswold.

"We take a team approach, but it's very significant position within our organization," he said.

A strong knowledge of hedge funds and other alternative investments is also a prerequisite for the position. Mr. Griswold said that volatility in markets of late has only strengthened interest in hedge fund alternatives among institutions looking to balance their portfolios.

Commonfund, which manages about US$30 billion for 1,600 nonprofit institutional investors including university endowments and healthcare facilities, in May announced an reorganization aimed at cutting costs. At that time, some 24 jobs across Commonfund and its various subsidiaries, representing a fraction of the group's overall staff.

Just prior to that reorganization, Jeff Landle, Commonfund's senior vice president of alternative investments announced he would be leaving to take a senior post at HypoVereinsbank's hedge fund group. (Previous HedgeWorld Story) Ironically, Mr. Petzel has been leading the search to replace Mr. Landle.

Mr. Petzel's Azimuth Capital is still in formation. Sources suggested Azimuth was planning a presence in New York and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, a locus of recent hedge fund activity.

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