Several southeast Texas money managers and pension funds have closed or made special arrangements in anticipation of Hurricane Rita, expected to make landfall early Saturday.
Officials at AIM Investments in Houston decided Wednesday morning to relocate more than 100 employees to Austin, said Ivy McLemore, spokesman. "In Houston today, we have only essential business people there, wrapping up things and aiding in the transition to Austin," Mr. McLemore said. "We also have over 200 employees in our Denver call center that can field calls from consultants and shareholders."
A message on the $2.4 billion Houston Police Officers' Pension System's general number said the plan "will be closed on Thursday, Sept. 22 and Friday, Sept. 23, due to Hurricane Rita. HPOPS has taken measures to continue operations, including keeping members' checks coming in a timely fashion. With the impending weather, we are not able to predict when we will be open again."
A "skeletal staff" of 10 was working out of Vaughan Nelson Investment Management's Houston headquarters today, said Lee Lahourcade, president and CEO. The firm plans to temporarily relocate operations to an emergency facility in College Station, Texas, beginning Friday. "The facility is about 60 miles northwest (of Houston), which makes it safe and out of harm's way, but accessible," Mr. Lahourcade said. Vaughan Nelson has 35 staff members overall, and about six employees will be at the College Station facility initially. Other employees will perform their jobs remotely, he said. Mr. Lahourcade has been in contact hourly with the firm's chief portfolio manager for equity products, who moved temporarily to Waco, Texas.
"We'll know by Saturday evening what the reality is here in Houston," Mr. Lahourcade said. "We have friends accommodating all of us in College Station through the end of next week."
Officials at the $1.4 billion Houston Municipal Employees Pension System could not be reached by phone; a phone company message said, "Due to the hurricane in the area you are calling, your call cannot be completed at this time."
Sampson Jordan, pension administrator of the $348 million City of Austin Police Retirement System, said, "We're serving as an evacuee city, so we're receiving evacuees" and handling emergency management issues. The system is operating as usual today and will be open Friday, he said.
Also in Austin, officials at private equity and venture capital firm Austin Ventures do not expect the storm to affect them greatly. However, the Austin City Limits Festival, an outdoor rock concert the firm has co-sponsored for the past four years, is scheduled for Friday through Sunday but may be canceled on one of the days, said Kim Paschall, director of communications. A decision on any cancellations will be made later today, she said.