Billionaire Robert Mercer, a conservative donor and Trump backer, is stepping down as Renaissance Technologies’ co-CEO. It is to take effect on January 1.
The 71-year-old sent a letter to investors announcing his departure from the position, and announced that he will also be leaving the board at the beginning of 2018 too. However, he claims that he would like to remain part of the technical staff in order to continue research.
On top of stepping down, he is also selling his stakes in Breitbart News as he attempts to distance himself from former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah Mercer, is buying out her father’s stakes.
Mercer said, “I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”
Mercer also took aim at Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial former Breitbart editor and provocateur. The hedge fund CEO said that he initially supported Yiannopoulos in hopes to challenging political correctness, but that his statements only served to deep social and political divides.“In my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate. I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.”
Mercer and Peter Brown took over as the hedge fund’s co-CEOs in 2010 after the firm’s founder, James Simons, a prominent Democratic donor, retired. Simons remains the chairman of Renaissance’s board.
Larry Solov, Breitbart’s president and CEO, revealed earlier this year that the Mercers, who spent millions to support President Trump’s 2016 campaign, were part owners of the conservative news site.
Both Robert and Rebekah Mercer have been backers of Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who returned to the top post at Breitbart in August after leaving the Trump administration.
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