Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New pension fund director could be familiar face

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's search for a new chief investment manager is closing in on a familiar name: Ashbel Williams, who had the job for the first half of the 1990s before leaving for a more lucrative career on Wall Street.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the other two members of the State Board of Administration voted Wednesday to negotiate a contract with Williams. He deals with private clients as a managing director of Fir Tree Partners, an investment fund that manages more than $4-billion in assets.

Williams was one of three finalists interviewed separately in recent weeks by Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum, who oversee the state's $163-billion pension fund.

"It's just our good fortune that he's available and is interested in coming back to Tallahassee," said Sink, who made the motion to open talks with Williams.

Williams, 53, a Jacksonville native, earned his master's of business administration at Florida State University. He began his career in state government while still at FSU. From a legislative analyst job he rose to serve as chief of staff to House Speaker Hyatt Brown of Daytona Beach, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Bob Graham, deputy comptroller under Comptroller Gerald Lewis and eventually the board of administration's executive director.

As SBA chief from 1991 to 1996, Williams answered to both Democrats and Republicans on trustee boards and said it makes no difference in how to manage investing the state's money.

"It's not a place for politics," he said.

Williams would succeed Coleman Stipanovich, who resigned his $182,000-a-year job Dec. 4 after losses in an SBA-run local investment pool caused extensive withdrawals by local governments. Since then, former Comptroller Bob Milligan has served as interim director.

State officials have agreed to pay the new pension fund director $250,000 to $350,000 a year. In application papers filed with the state, Williams wrote that he already makes more than that, and "would require a base salary near the top of the range and relocation assistance."

A resident of the New York City suburb of Wilton, Conn., Williams owns a beach home in the Panhandle and sounded eager to return.

"Florida is home to me and my family, and I think there's honor in public service," Williams said. He said the long train rides to and from work made it difficult to spend time with his 9-year-old daughter, and that Tallahassee is "very conducive to raising a family."

Recalling his recent return to the city, Williams joked about seeing portraits of past governors on the Capitol walls. "I know just about all these guys," he said, recalling the prominently-displayed portrait of former Gov. LeRoy Collins.

New pension fund director could be familiar face 07/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 5:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday

    Wildlife

    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]