Bridgewater Associates LP's move to a partnership structure is a welcome development, said asset owners, investment consultants and industry pundits.
Bridgewater, based in Westport, Conn., wrote of the ownership shift to its 300 clients in a June 28 letter from the firm's co-CEOs David McCormick and Eileen Murray, which was obtained by Pensions & Investments.
Institutional investors interviewed by P&I said the company has kept them informed about its intentions to move to a partnership and they like the move.
Plans call for the company to create a partnership in which about 50 partners and a number of external stakeholders will share ownership of the firm. Bridgewater has 1,500 employees.
"Whenever you open up an organization to broader employee ownership, it's a positive," said James C. McKee, senior vice president and director, hedge fund research, at investment consultant Callan LLC, San Francisco.
"A real, tangible ownership structure creates a much broader base that will be more sustaining for the money manager," Mr. McKee said.
The change is the next phase in a 10-year transition plan, begun in 2010, to replace Raymond T. Dalio, the firm's iconic, 68-year-old founder, in his administrative roles, Ms. Murray said in an interview.
Mr. Dalio has been steadily handing over control of the firm in the past few years.
He stepped down as co-CEO in the first half of April 2017, retaining co-chief investment officer and co-chairman roles.
Bridgewater managed a total of $164 billion in hedge funds and risk-parity strategies as of May 31.
Collectively, Mr. Dalio and co-CIOs Robert Prince and Greg Jensen, are majority owners of the firm. Fifty to 70 employees now hold phantom equity ownership in the firm.
Institutions, including the $151.4 billion Teacher Retirement System of the State of Texas, Austin, and the C$95 billion ($71.6 billion) Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, Toronto, and GIC Private Ltd., Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, own minority shares.
Texas Teachers paid $250 million in March 2012 for a 2.4% ownership stake that totaled $384 million as of Dec. 31, per data provided by the pension fund, putting Bridgewater's value around $16 billion.