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Goldman joins retreat from Fisher's firm after his remarks

Goldman Sachs is joining the exodus from Ken Fisher’s firm.

The Wall Street bank said Friday in a regulatory filing that it will be dropping Fisher Asset Management as the underlying manager of Goldman Sachs Multi-Manager Global Equity Fund. Goldman Sachs has pulled $234 million from Fisher Investments, according to a person familiar with the matter, though the figure may grow. A spokesman for Goldman declined to comment.

The move brings the total reported withdrawals from Fisher to more than $2.7 billion in the two weeks since he made vulgar comments at an industry conference. The Los Angeles fire and police pension board on Thursday voted to yank about $500 million after a contentious meeting with representatives of the firm.

Fisher is suffering an intensifying backlash from his remarks on Oct. 8 in which he spoke about genitalia and then failed to immediately understand the gravity of his words. He later apologized. In the ensuing days, pension funds in New Hampshire, Iowa, Michigan, Boston and Philadelphia decided to cut ties with his firm.

The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. logo is displayed in the reception area of the One Raffles Link building, which houses one of the Goldman Sachs (Singapore) Pte offices, in Singapore, on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. Singapore has expanded a criminal probe into fund flows linked to scandal-plagued 1MDB to include Goldman Sachs Group, which helped raise money for the entity, people with knowledge of the matter said. Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

At the meeting in Los Angeles today, the nine-member board debated whether to retain or fire Fisher and some of them excoriated the executive.

“Fisher’s words reach millions and only do damage,” L.A. pension commissioner Brian Pendleton said at the meeting. “Other pension funds are going to come to the same conclusion and we shouldn’t be the last ones to turn the lights off.”

Representatives from Camas, Washington-based Fisher Investments attended the meeting and addressed the board today. CEO Damian Ornani apologized for Fisher, saying the founder knows his comments were wrong.

Ultimately, the board voted 5-4 to exit from Fisher as some members expressed concern about the costs involved in making the move.

Fisher, which manages $114 billion, is also facing scrutiny from several other pensions.

Fisher Investments was managing about $10.9 billion on behalf of 36 state or municipal government entities, including pension plans, at the end of 2018, according to the firm’s SEC registration. That figure is down from $13.2 billion at the end of 2017.

Bloomberg News