Ken Fisher says no lay-offs despite withdrawals over his remarks

FILE PHOTO: Columnist and Investor Ken Fisher speaks to Reuters in New York, April 14, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

BOSTON (Reuters) - Fisher Investments founder Ken Fisher said there will be no lay-offs at his Washington state investment firm despite some $3 billion in withdrawals by pension funds and others over allegedly sexist remarks he made at an investor conference.

In a local newspaper column published late on Friday, Fisher wrote that most of the firm is growing based on business from high net worth individuals, retirement savings plans and foreign institutions.

He wrote that growing revenue in those areas more than makes up for high-profile withdrawals from state and local pension plans and other clients. The withdrawals totaled more than $3 billion as of Friday as systems in Texas, California and elsewhere withdrew money.

Fisher wrote, “The withdrawal of several billion dollars, however, does not reflect a firm, in our instance, that has any sustainability problems.”

Fisher Chief Executive Damian Ornani said last week the firm had about $114 billion in total assets and also said the firm was stable.

Fisher’s column appeared on the website of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record, which serves cities near Portland, Oregon. It states that Fisher’s Camas-based firm is the city’s largest employer, with 1,750 local employees.

According to an attendee at a San Francisco conference on October 8, Fisher made derogatory remarks about genitalia and picking up girls, among other topics. After a public backlash, Fisher apologized in a memo to his firm’s employees and to the public.

He reiterated the apology in the newspaper column, calling his remarks “clumsy and inappropriate” and writing that “They will not reoccur again ever in any form.”

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Dan Grebler