MassMutual's Barings taps company veteran to replace departing CEO

November 5, 2020.
In this April 16, 2009, file photo, the MetLife skyscraper overlooks an older building in New York. MetLife is in talks to part with a business that at one time defined one of the world’s biggest life insurance companies: Its life insurance agents. The unit, known as MetLife Premier Client Group, has 4,000 workers who sell insurance products to individuals and small business owners, according to paperwork filed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

In this April 16, 2009, file photo, the MetLife skyscraper overlooks an older building in New York. MetLife is in talks to part with a business that at one time defined one of the world’s biggest life insurance companies: Its life insurance agents. The unit, known as MetLife Premier Client Group, has 4,000 workers who sell insurance products to individuals and small business owners, according to paperwork filed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

, a subsidiary of insurer , said Thursday its current President Mike Freno, who has been credited with keeping the company strong during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been named chairman and CEO of the $346 billion asset manager as its current leader departs to join the board at .

Freno, a 15-year-Barings veteran who has been president of the Charlotte-based firm since February, came on board in 2005 as a managing director, a role he held for 11 years. He has since had stints as head of global high yield, global fixed income and multi-asset and global markets.

Freno will succeed Tom Finke, who has been chairman and CEO since 2016. Finke, who will depart at the end of November, will become a board member at Atlanta-based investment manager Invesco.

During his brief tenure as president, Freno is credited with integrating Barings' investments businesses, in addition to operations, technology, product management, distribution and marketing, as well as with strengthening the firm during the volatility brought on by the pandemic.  

MassMutual acquired Barings from ING in 2005. The company, which has a lengthy history that includes financing the Louisiana Purchase, has existed in its current form since 2016, when MassMutual brought Barings and other subsidiaries Babson, Cornerstone and Wood Creek Capital Management together as one global asset-management organization under the Barings name.

The company reported more than $346 billion assets under management as of June 30, divided about equally among the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. It has more than 1,900 employees worldwide.

"I have been honored to lead the firm through its first four years as Barings, as we built a truly outstanding global investment management firm,” Finke said Thursday. “It is satisfying to see Barings operating from a position of strength as Mike now takes the reins to drive Barings' ambitious growth and transformation strategy."

The firm continues to grow. In August, Barings BDC made an agreement to merge with MVC Capital, putting the Purchase, New York-based firm’s $226 million investment portfolio under Barings’ management. The next month, Barings joined with Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign-wealth portfolio manager, to offer $3.5 billion worth of lending to middle-market European companies. 

— Additional reporting by Owen Poindexter and Tom Auchterlonie

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