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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Will Obama Make a Hobson Choice?

News summary by MFWire's editors

A mutual fund executive could be taking over Chris Cox' chair at the SEC when his term expires in June. One of the names thrown around as a possible successor to Cox is Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago-headquartered, African-American-owned Ariel Capital Management, The Wall Street Journal reports. Ariel's founder, John Rogers, is a longtime friend of President Elect Barack Obama. Another Journal article notes that the day after the election, Obama spent most of his time working out of Rogers' office.

Ariel spokeswoman Merrilyn Kosler told The Journal that Hobson supports Obama and has been a fundraiser for him but is " committed to Ariel" and "doesn't have any interest" in departing the company.

Other possible successors mentioned by The Journal include three former SEC commissioners: Roel Campos, now a partner at law firm Cooley, Godward; Harvey Goldschmid, a Columbia University law professor; and Annette Nazareth, a partner at Davis, Polk & Wardwell. Also mentioned is Damon Silvers, associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO.

Princeton-educated Hobson, 39, joined Ariel as an intern in 1987. She rose to become the firm's president at the age of 31 in 2000.

One of the most visible mutual fund executives on television, Hobson has served as financial contributor on ABC's Good Morning America since 2000. She is also a spokesperson for the Ariel/Schwab Black Investor Survey, and a columnist for Black Enterprise.

According to a Fortune article last month, Hobson first hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 1995, when he was running for the Illinois state senate. She also worked on her friend and fellow Princeton alumnus Bill Bradley's presidential campaign in 2000.

In July, Hobson and Rogers, who is said to be very close to Michelle Obama's brother, hosted an event at Ariel's offices in which Warren Buffett was the special guest.

Asked by Fortune about the prospect of her getting a role in Washington, Hobson said she'd "never be so presumptuous," later adding: "I'm the only one of my Princeton classmates who still has the same work number I had after graduation."  

Edited by: Armie Margaret Lee

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