Top executives at asset manager and investment bank Guggenheim Partners LLC are working to quell clients' concerns about the fate of their chief executive officer and about an ongoing examination by U.S. securities regulators.

A top investment consultancy and at least four of Guggenheim's institutional clients have said they are closely monitoring developments, with one saying the work environment at the Chicago and New York-based company "has indeed deteriorated."

Some investors, including the Sonoma County Employees' Retirement Association in California, and the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission, formally put Guggenheim on "watch" lists, keeping a closer eye on performance than usual, documents seen by Reuters show. The moves could lead to those firms cutting ties with Guggenheim, which oversees $295 billion in assets.

Guggenheim "relationship managers," a top lawyer and even its global chief investment officer, Scott Minerd, are working to address clients' concerns after months of bad press, according to documents seen by Reuters and interviews with clients and executives.

"I'm sure they're saying the same thing to everybody," said Steven Turi, chief investment officer for SkyView Investment Advisors LLC, a longtime Guggenheim client. "They've been trying to deal with it."

Closer scrutiny by pension plans, investment consultants and other investment firms shows Guggenheim may have more work to do to assuage investors concerned about the status of chief executive Mark Walter.

"I don't want to see any client of ours unhappy," Minerd said in response to one pension fund client's concerns, which Reuters raised in an interview this week. "I will meet with them."

Gerard Carney, managing director and spokesman at Guggenheim Investments, later added that Minerd, Guggenheim Investments President Jerry Miller, and assistant chief investment officer for fixed income Anne Walsh "as well as our client service teams have been very proactive in engaging and communicating with clients to ensure that they understand our positioning, clear up any mischaracterizations and ensure we listen to and address any concerns."

He said public pension assets are about 1.4 percent of Guggenheim's overall assets under management.

Bad Press

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