NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Bob Shearer, who manages one of BlackRock Inc's largest funds, is planning to leave the world's biggest asset manager later this year, executives said in a memo on Tuesday.
Shearer is a managing director and lead portfolio manager for the nearly $22 billion BlackRock Equity Dividend Fund , BlackRock's third-largest mutual fund and its biggest concentrated primarily on picking stocks, aiming to buy stakes in companies that can boost their dividends.
Responsibility for the group that oversees the fund and related accounts will be handed over to Tony DeSpirito, currently a co-head and co-portfolio manager on the team, the memo said.
Institutional shares of the fund gained 7.2 percent a year for the past 10 years, according to Lipper, beating most of its rivals. Shearer has been portfolio manager on the fund since 2001, while DeSpirito stepped into a leading role in 2014.
"Ever the professional, Bob told us he arrived at this decision in part because of the strength of the team and prospects for the business," according to the memo provided to Reuters by the company.
The document is signed by Mark Wiseman, who oversees stockpicking strategies globally at BlackRock, and Nigel Bolton, a chief investment officer there.
BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink has been working to boost the investment performance of the New York-based company's stockpicking funds by encouraging its traditionalist teams to embrace data mining and rules-based investment techniques.
It hired Wiseman away from Canada's biggest public pension fund last year to quarterback that process.
Much of the investment management industry has been fighting to thwart a move from active funds to typically lower-cost passive ones that merely track an index. BlackRock is also a major manager of index funds through its iShares exchange-traded funds business.
Investors pulled $20 billion from BlackRock's active stock funds last year, while pushing $75 billion into its stock ETFs. BlackRock managed $5.1 trillion overall at the end of 2016. (Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Alan Crosby)