Ariel Investments Cuts Staff 20 Percent

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Chicago-based mutual fund firm Ariel Investments laid off 18 employees or about 20 percent of its staff, citing a need to run a leaner operation amid difficult market conditions for its value equity style.

Pensions & Investments reports that the casualties include two of Ariel's nine technology staffers, two research analysts and a position responsible for sponsorships. One of the laid-off researchers, Robert Goldsborough, had just been appointed to the firm's investment committee. The other is junior analyst Mishone Donelson, who joined last year.

Ariel President Mellody L. Hobson described the step as a necessary belt-tightening measure amid "a brutal bear market."

Ariel, formerly called Ariel Capital Management, runs three equity mutual funds as well as separate accounts for corporate, public, union and non-profit organizations. Founded in 1983, it is said to be the first African-American-owned mutual fund company. Its flagship Ariel Fund also pioneered the use of socially responsible investing criteria. Ariel had $8.9 billion in assets under management as of June 30, according to Pensions & Investments.