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Ray Dalio gives up Bridgewater's control as part of succession plan

By Carolina Mandl and Svea Herbst-Bayliss

(Reuters) -Ray Dalio, the billionaire investor who built Bridgewater Associates into one of the world's biggest hedge funds, has handed over control of the $150 billion firm to a new generation of investors, the firm said on Tuesday.

Dalio has transferred his majority stake to the board but remains a "meaningful" owner of the fund, the company said. He has stepped down as one of three co-chief investment officers, although he will remain as a chief investment officer mentor.

"The control of the company now sits with our operating board. There is nothing left to do on Ray’s transition. It's done," Co-Chief Executive Officers Nir Bar Dea and Mark Bertolini said in a statement.

Dalio will keep his seat on Bridgewater's operating board of directors, alongside the other 12 members.

"Hopefully until I die, I will continue to be a mentor, an investor, and board member at Bridgewater, because I and they love doing those things together," Dalio wrote on Twitter.

The 73-year-old billionaire stepped down as Bridgewater's chief executive officer in 2017 and chairman at the end of 2021, following which the prolific hedge fund manager served in his current role focusing on mentoring the committee that has oversight over the firm's investment strategies.

The final step in the succession plan comes in a good year for Bridgewater's flagship Pure Alpha fund - for the first three quarters of this year it rose almost 35% and an average of 11.32% annually since its launch in 1991, according to a source familiar with the fund.

The move completes what has been a years-long transition at a time some of his peers, including Carl Icahn, have turned their once large hedge funds into so-called family offices where they manage only the founder's family fortune.

Dalio, who is known as much for Bridgewater's iconoclastic culture of "radical transparency" as he is for his ability to decipher market movements and put up big returns, wanted the firm to outlive him and spent years trying to find the right mix of investors and executives to lead the firm he founded in 1975.

The latest big management changes at Bridgewater came in January when it appointed Bertolini and Bar Dea to replace David McCormick as CEO as the former U.S. Treasury official pursued a run for public office.

Dalio's views on the economy have been closely watched by retail investors and financiers throughout his career.

"I have enormous respect for Ray," said Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank. "He is a great thinker and an outstanding investor," Dimon said.

A self-proclaimed sinophile, Dalio also enjoys huge popularity in China, where his company became the No. 1 foreign hedge fund house last year, even as Washington and Beijing were in the midst of a harsh auditing dispute.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Additional reporting by Manya Saini and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru, Lananh Nguyen, in New York; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Andrea Ricci and Josie Kao)