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President Point72’s Cohen takes on greater role

September 17, 2018

Point72 Asset Management’s founder and CEO has added another job title as the firm’s management changes continue.

Steven Cohen has taken over as the Stamford-based hedge fund’s president, succeeding Doug Haynes, who resigned in March, Hearst Connecticut Media has learned. Cohen, a Greenwich resident, will continue to also serve as CEO and co-chief investment officer.

“Steve will remain president for the foreseeable future; he’s enjoying serving as president,” a company spokesman said. “There is no search underway for president.”

The president position focuses on executing the firm’s strategic plan, which is chiefly developed by the CEO.

“Steve has been extraordinarily successful in building his firm and making money for his investors,” said Bruce McGuire, president of the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association. “I have to believe that having a guy with his talents in the president role would be beneficial to the firm.”

Haynes, who had held the position since Point72’s 2014 founding, left a month after he was named as a defendant in lawsuit filed by Point72 Associate Director Lauren Bonner, who alleges systemic gender discrimination in the firm.

Female employees openly shared the view that as long as Haynes served as president, “women will be paid less,” the complaint said. Women at times earn 50 cents for every dollar made by their male colleagues, according to the lawsuit.

Point72 officials have denied the complaint’s allegations and not acknowledged any connection between Haynes’ resignation and the litigation.

A message left seeking comment from Bonner’s lawyers for this article was not returned.

Point 72 has moved from a family-office structure into hedge fund management after a two-year federal ban linked to 2013 insider-trading violations at Cohen’s previous firm, SAC Capital Advisors.

The firm has raised about $4 billion in outside capital this year, bringing its total assets under management to approximately $13 billion. The balance comprises assets belonging to Cohen and his family and a select group of Point72 employees.

“The institutional investors are voting with their wallets, and the $4 billion number indicates they’re glad to have Steve back in hedge fund management,” McGuire said. “It doesn’t seem like Doug Haynes leaving has set the firm back.”

In a March memo to employees, Cohen said the firm’s transitional period marked a “natural point to make way for a new, different type of leader.”

Around the same time as Haynes’ departure, Cohen hired law firm WilmerHale to conduct an independent assessment and provide advice aimed at improving Point72’s policies and procedures.

A few weeks after Hayes left, Mike Butler, the firm’s HR head since 2014, announced his retirement. He plans to serve as a consultant through the fall.

Bonner’s lawsuit alleges Butler and Point72 Chief Legal Officer Kevin O’Connor told an unnamed female employee during compensation negotiations that she was getting “too aggressive and emotional,” and that she could take the offer or leave the company.

The firm declined to comment this week on the status of the HR head position.

Bonner’s lawsuit, meanwhile, faces two possible paths.

Based on an order in July by the federal judge overseeing the case, the American Arbitration Association will rule whether arbitration proceedings — a common framework that uses third-party officials to settle employment disputes out of court — should be implement to hear the complaint or remain in the judicial system.

The timeline for the AAA’s decision is undecided. Bonner’s and Point72’s lawyers have to update Judge Analisa Torres every 60 days and notify her no later than seven days after the AAA reaches a decision.

Since Bonner filed her lawsuit, Point72 has sought to move the case to arbitration. They argue her allegations fall under the purview of arbitration provisions in her contract.

Bonner’s lawyers have responded that her claims are instead covered by the federal Equal Pay Act, New York state labor law, New York state human rights law and New York City human rights law.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

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