Roger McNamee, the 35-year-old overseer of one of T. Rowe Price Associates' most successful mutual funds, has left the firm to start his own company in California.
The announcement of McNamee's leaving was made to Price employees this week and shareholders will soon be notified by mail, said Steve Norwitz, the firm's spokesman.
McNamee oversaw the $163 million Science and Technology Fund, which was ranked as one of the country's best sector funds.
Charles "Chip" Morris, 28, who helped McNamee operate the fund, will now become the fund president, Norwitz said. There will be no change in policies or programs, he added.
McNamee began working at Price in 1982 as an investment analyst in technical areas. He became president of the Science and Technology Fund in 1988.
During his administration, the fund posted a 74 percent return, compared with a 50 percent for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.
Norwitz said McNamee left to start a fund to invest in venture capital, private technology companies and small public technology firms. The company will be based in the San Francisco area.
we could have accommodated his interest, we would have kept him here," Norwitz said. But he added that the type of fund McNamee now wants to administer is a "more aggressive fund than we feel comfortable offering."
Norwitz said that McNamee's leaving should not have an adverse effect on the company, and pointed out that the fund is only a small part of the $32 billion managed by Price's various funds.
Kurt Brower, author of Kurt Brower's Guide to Mutual Funds and a San Francisco analyst, said it will be some time before investors will know whether McNamee's successor will administer the fund with the same success.
In any case, he said, the fund probably will feel the loss of McNamee. "In his area, he is quite well known," Brower said. McNamee traveled around the country attending high technology symposiums and meeting the heads of technology companies in order to find the right investment opportunities, he said.