Power Financial Corp. executives insist the turnaround of Putnam Investments, the long-suffering money manager they bought last year for $3.9 billion, remains “on track,” but there are signs they could be looking for new leaders to revive the Boston-based firm.
Industry observers — including investment bankers, private equity investors and money management executives — say Montreal-based Power Financial has retained an executive search firm, possibly New York-based Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., to quietly vet chief executive officer candidates for Putnam.
Current CEO Charles “Ed” Haldeman's contract expires in June, and industry veterans in Boston have expected Kevin Cronin, Putnam's head of investments, to succeed him if and when Mr. Haldeman leaves.
If Power Financial were to bring in an outside CEO, former Putnam executives say it's uncertain whether Mr. Cronin — the executive who built Putnam's respected fixed-income division before assuming oversight of equity investments as well in February 2005 — would stay.
Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Haldeman declined to comment on his plans. Jeffrey Orr, CEO of Power Financial, wouldn't say whether his firm has initiated a CEO search. But he did say Power executives are “very pleased with the work that Putnam's management team” — and Mr. Cronin in particular — has been doing.
Officials at Russell Reynolds said they don't identify clients as a matter of policy.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Cronin said he's very happy with his current job, adding decisions on Putnam's CEO “aren't my call.”
Mr. Orr gave no indication that major changes at Putnam are looming — or needed. “All of the things we set out to do, we have been on track to do,” he said. He didn't elaborate. Mr. Cronin concurred: “I'm happy with the progress that we're making,” he said.