Southern Co. Services Assistant Treasurer William M. Stephens is the front-runner to become chief investment officer of Ameritech Corp.'s $14.5 billion pension fund, sources say.
As Pensions & Investments went to press, Ameritech Treasurer Richard Pehlke reportedly was working through a list of five finalists, with Mr. Stephens at the top. A decision is expected later this month.
The new CIO will replace Judith Mares, who resigned unexpectedly in December.
Mr. Stephens would not comment on the Ameritech search or confirm his part in it. But he said he "can't imagine that it will be much longer" before a decision is made.
Other names mentioned as candidates are Basil Schwan, former executive director of the $19.8 billion Washington State Investment Board, Olympia, and Peter Wells, formerly vice president in the investment group of Allstate Insurance Co., Northbrook, Ill. Mr. Schwan left the Washington fund in October after his contract expired; Mr. Wells retired this year under an early retirement incentive package offered by Allstate.
But one Wall Street headhunter said those names don't make a high-profile lineup for a fund like Ameritech.
Mr. Schwan, who has been consulting since leaving the Washington state fund, said he doesn't think he's a candidate. Mr. Wells, who is currently searching for an investment position with another company, also said he is not a candidate.
Susan Manske, Ameritech's director of fixed-income investment who has been acting CIO since December, is said to have told management she is not interested in the job permanently.
Ameritech spokesman Michael Brand said the company would not discuss the search other than to note it is continuing. Mr. Pehlke was not available for comment.
For Mr. Stephens, the Ameritech post would mean a return to Illinois. Before joining Atlanta-based Southern Co., he was CIO of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, Springfield. At Southern Co., he oversees $5 billion in defined benefit, defined contribution and employee stock ownership plans.