Ariel Investments has begun making sports-related investments, Mellody Hobson, president of the Chicago-based small-cap manager, said Monday.
Among the companies in which Ariel is investing are International Speedway Corp., The Madison Square Garden Co. and CBS Corp., Ms. Hobson said in Chicago during a plenary session at the 65th annual conference of the CFA Institute.
“It's an interesting play for us,” Ms. Hobson said, explaining the “play” as a combination of media, real estate and technology.
Ms. Hobson didn't provide details, such as how much the firm has invested.
She also talked about how Ariel's dealings with clients have changed since the 2008-2009 economic meltdown. Risk aversion: “It's everything,” Ms. Hobson said. For example, a client will say, “We noticed your beta has gone up,” or a client will want detailed information on the firm's risk controls.
At the same time, Ms. Hobson said, Ariel executives are so client focused with a natural instinct “to please” that when a client was worried about market volatility — which Ariel can't control — “at times it felt like we were apologizing for it.”
Also at the conference, Sam Zell, chairman at Equity Group Investments, stressed the importance of selecting a partner when investing in emerging markets economies.
According to Mr. Zell, as investors enter these markets, they are trading growth for the rule of law, and the single most important decision is selecting a local partner who can navigate the landscape.
In terms of specific markets, Mr. Zell stressed he would continue to steer clear of Russia — and while historically his experience evaluating investments in India could not be justified economically, he said there may be a potential now that prices of assets there have come down substantially.