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Robert Mercer to step down as head of Renaissance Technologies

Robert Mercer speaks on the phone during the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Oliver Contreras | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Robert Mercer speaks on the phone during the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Robert Mercer, a billionaire investor who is a big backer of many conservative causes and a patron of former White House adviser Steve Bannon, is stepping down as co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, the giant hedge fund.

Mr. Mercer sent a letter to investors and pension advisers on Thursday morning in which he said he would step down. A copy of the letter was reviewed by The New York Times.

In the letter, Mr. Mercer said he was stepping down from his post as of Jan. 1, 2018, and would also step down from the hedge fund's board. He said he would remain active on the research side of the hedge-fund firm, which makes trades using complex mathematical equations.

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The letter did not give a reason for Mr. Mercer's decision. Mr. Mercer's involvement in conservative politics became controversial during the presidential election.

The fund was founded by James Simons, a prominent supporter of Democratic causes and candidates, including Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

A Renaissance spokesman didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Mr. Mercer couldn't immediately be reached for comment.