As Hurricane Charley threatened to pound Florida's Gulf Coast today, officials at area pension funds and money managers took cover and sought higher ground.
Eagle Asset Management, Tampa, Fla., which has $8.15 billion in assets under management, closed at noon EDT, and calls were being routed to the firm's Richmond, Va., office, said Robert Marshall, co-portfolio manager. Work today was voluntary for Eagle's Tampa employees, and only a small staff remained at the office at noon. "It's better safe than sorry," he said. "If the storm tracks as expected, they're expecting 10- to 15-foot storm swells." However, Mr. Marshall expects everything "should be business as usual" on Monday.
A phone message at the PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP pension plan headquarters in Tampa said the office "is closed due to inclement weather and willPricewaterhouseCoopers6." PricewaterhouseCoopers has $3.3 billion in retirement assets. Calls to the $1.01 billion Tampa Police & Firefighters' Pension Fund didn't go through.
ICC Capital Management, Orlando, Fla., with $2 billion in assets under management, sent most non-essential staff home, although the office remains open, said CEO Bart McMurry, who said the Orlando area isn't expecting heavy storm winds until after the market closes. "The timing of it just so happens to work out that way."
Joe Chabus, spokesman for Darden Restaurants Inc., Orlando, said the company's corporate offices closed at 1:30 p.m. EDT. He noted that Darden Restaurants set up day care for employees' children Friday because area schools were closed. Darden has $624 million in pension plan assets.
Offices for the City of Orlando, which has a combined $650 million in pension assets, closed at noon EDT, said an official in city Treasurer Kent Olson's office.
It's "business as usual" for the $97.5 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, Fla., said Mike McCauley, director of investment services and communications. "Fortunately, we haven't really been affected," he said, adding that the board doesn't expect much more than some heavy rain in its part of the Florida panhandle.
The $925 million Tallahassee Pension Plan is also operating normally and isn't closing early, according to an assistant to Steve Chase, pension administrator.
Meteorologists expect Charley, a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 145 mph, to come ashore between Tampa and Fort Myers, Fla., before Friday evening.