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Hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater names new co-chief executives

Bridgewater, the world’s biggest hedge fund, said on Monday that it is naming two new chief executive officers to take the reins from David McCormick, who resigned from the C.E.O. role to consider a run for the U.S. Senate.

Nir Bar Dea, the deputy chief executive of Bridgewater, and Mark Bertolini, a Bridgewater board member and former chief executive of Aetna, will now lead the hedge fund jointly.

Mr. Bar Dea, 40, is a relative unknown in the investing world. He joined the Westport, Conn., firm in 2015 and was elevated to the No. 2 role last February as part of a broader leadership shake-up. A former major in the Israeli military, he has been an architect of pandemic planning for Bridgewater, which employs around 1,500 people and manages roughly $150 billion for pensions, sovereign wealth funds and other investors.

Mr. Bertolini, 65, joined Bridgewater’s board in 2019. He was previously chief executive of Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurers, and served in that role from 2010 through 2018 when Aetna was acquired by CVS Health in a $69 billion deal.

In an employee memo distributed late Monday morning, Bridgewater’s top executives, including billionaire founder Ray Dalio, praised Mr. Bar Dea’s track record at the firm and Mr. Bertolini’s as a seasoned global C.E.O. The executives also thanked Mr. McCormick for grooming a new generation of leadership, boasting that Bridgewater is now “largely immune to key person risks” — which is business parlance for when a company’s success is uniquely dependent on one or more executives.

Bridgewater, founded by Mr. Dalio on a shoestring in 1975, has had a tradition of appointing co-chief executives even though the structure has caused friction and frequent leadership changes. In 2017, Mr. McCormick — who had joined the firm in 2009 as its president — became co-chief executive along with Eileen Murray, who had held the role since 2009. Ms. Murray left Bridgewater in April 2020, leaving Mr. McCormick, 56, as sole chief.

Mr. Dalio, who has developed a cult following in the investing community, remains the co-chief investment officer and co-chairman of Bridgewater.

A former Army captain and McKinsey consultant, Mr. McCormick worked closely with Mr. Dalio before taking over the chief executive mantle. Unlike Mr. Dalio — an investment expert with a well-known management philosophy built on principles like internal transparency — Mr. McCormick focused on broader corporate issues, business associates said, like global positioning, retaining and recruiting new clients.

Now expected to run for Senate as a conservative Republican in his native Pennsylvania, Mr. McCormick is no stranger to politics. He served in several roles during the George W. Bush administration. Mr. McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, a senior executive at Goldman Sachs, served on the National Security Council under President Donald J. Trump.

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