CHICAGO -- Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments for the past 19 years, has been named co-CEO of the firm and will purchase a portion of the ownership stake owned by founder and co-CEO John Rogers.
In an announcement to "clients and friends" posted Wednesday on Ariel's website, to Rogers spoke in glowing terms of Hobson, who has been at the firm for almost 28 years. Rogers said he met Hobson at a high school recruiting fair when she was 17 years old, hired her as a summer intern while she was at Princeton University and made her a full-time employee after her graduation.
"I have seen Mellody's fortitude and resolve in the tensest of situations," Rogers wrote. "She stands firm when others are shaky. She is a beacon in a storm -- disciplined and thoughtful when others lose perspective."
He added, "Even though I founded Ariel, it has long been Mellody's firm too. In all the years of working together, Mellody and I have evolved into co-leaders. Her decision-making has always been through a lens of ownership and entrepreneurship."
The sale of shares to Hobson, 50, will make her the largest shareholder in the firm. Hobson will purchase about 14% of Rogers' shares by July 19, after which she will own 39.5% of Ariel, compared with Roberts' 34.1%. Employees and board members own 21.8%, while outsiders own 4.6%.
"Both her promotion as well as this share purchase represent a long-planned generational transition of leadership and ownership while simultaneously allowing us to maintain continuity," Rogers wrote. "As many know, I have never been a seller of my Ariel stock and these are the only shares that I ever plan to sell. I am happily doing so to level the playing field."
Rogers, 61, said he would remain chairman of Ariel's board.
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