Business & Tech

John Hailer steps down as CEO of Natixis

Former Natixis CEO john Hailer spoke at a groundbreaking in Boston in 2014.

Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe/File

Former Natixis CEO john Hailer spoke at a groundbreaking in Boston in 2014.

John Hailer stepped down Thursday as chief executive of Natixis Global Asset Management in Boston, the company said, after 19 years with the investment group.

Hailer, 56, is succeeded by David Giunta, another Natixis veteran, who heads sales and distribution in the United States and Canada. The US operation oversees $427 billion in assets, managed at subsidiary firms including Loomis, Sayles & Co. in Boston. Natixis’s parent company is a global banking and financial giant based in Paris.

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Hailer is retiring, the company said, “to dedicate himself more fully to public service and philanthropic work.” He will stay on until the end of April to help with the transition.

Hailer’s boss in Paris, Pierre Servant, also is stepping down.

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Both moves follow a year in which investors pulled $12.8 billion out of Natixis mutual funds and revenue declined. Firms like Natixis whose managers pick investments have struggled to compete with cheaper funds designed to passively track the performance of indexes such as the Standard & Poor’s 500.

“In his 19 years at Natixis, John was instrumental in building a successful international distribution platform and fostering a global culture of teamwork and community involvement,” Natixis chief Laurent Mignon said in a statement.

Hailer built a high profile in Boston for himself and the Natixis brand, with civic and charitable roles, including serving on the boards of Boston Medical Center and the Boston Public Library. He also is chairman of the New England Council, a public policy group for business.

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But his tenure at Natixis also has been marked by controversy. The company in 2011 settled sexual harassment allegations against Hailer for at least $1.5 million, a matter that did not come to light until the Globe reported on it in 2014.

Hailer has denied the allegations, which were detailed in court records.

Hailer did not inform the Natixis mutual fund trustees of the settlement, an omission that later brought criticism from governance specialists and angered the board, whose members have included a number of well-known executives and academics.

At the time of the settlement, Charlie Baker was a fund trustee, years before he was governor of Massachusetts. He and other current and former members of the funds board said they were unaware of the allegations or the settlement.

Hailer, who in the past has harbored ambitions of running for mayor of Boston, has continued to manage a company with 1,300 employees in the area. He also oversaw the recent building of a new office tower for Natixis on Boylston Street in the Back Bay.

Hailer’s departure is part of a broader overhaul. While Hailer oversaw Natixis’s investment business in the Americas and Asia, the job under Giunta will be limited to North America.

10/08/2014 BOSTON, MA Natixis CEO John Hailer (cq) prepared for the official groundbreaking for Natixis Global Asset Management's (cq) new building at 888 Boylston Street (cq) in Boston. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe/File

John Hailer was instrumental in building up Natixis, the company said, but his tenure was also marked with controversy tied to a harassment allegation that he denies.

Giunta, 51, takes the reins at a challenging time. The US group’s revenue declined 9 percent last year, according to earnings released from Paris on Thursday, contributing to an 11 percent decline in pretax profits of $1.1 billion for the parent company’s investment business.

Giunta joined Natixis in 2008, having worked previously for Fidelity Investments. He will report to Jean Raby, a new hire who will be chief executive of Natixis Global Asset Management in Paris.

Natixis said mutual fund outflows slowed in the fourth quarter, and a number of funds that had underperformed were improving.

“You have to be willing to last through the cycle to get the benefits of those investments” over the longer term, spokesman Ted Meyer said. “We’re starting to see that.”

Total assets at the US operation have risen 74 percent over the past 10 years on Hailer’s watch, Meyer said.

Jon Chesto of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.
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