The president of Harvard Management Co., which manages the world's largest university endowment, plans to leave the job at the end of the year, the university said today.
Mohamed El-Erian, who came to Harvard Management in 2006, plans to return to the firm where he had worked previously, Pacific Investment Management Co., or PIMCO.
El-Erian's planned departure follows the recent announcement of Harvard Management's annual investment performance, which was considered very good. The $34.9 billion earned 23 percent in its most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30.
El-Erian arrived at Harvard to succeed Jack Meyer, the longtime Harvard Management president who had resigned along with many of his top investment managers to launch a new hedge fund. He spent much of his tenure hiring a new team of senior managers.
Meyer and his managers had become controversial in some Harvard circles because a compensation system designed to reward superior performance was paying a few people as much as $18 million a year.
When he arrived, El-Erian said he would not abolish Harvard Management's performance-oriented compensation plan, but top salaries for the 2006 fiscal year paled in comparison to earlier periods. A report on the highest paid managers for the 2007 fiscal year will be issued near the end of the year.
"In returning to southern California to be closer to our family, I will miss my daily interactions with this special Harvard community," El-Erian said in a written announcement.
El-Erian and Harvard officials did not offer any more detailed explanation for his planned departure.
"Mohamed has done an impressive job guiding and reorganizing Harvard Management Co., and we will miss his leadership," said James Rothenberg, Harvard's treasurer and the chairman of Harvard Management.