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Former Conseco Manager Explains Abrupt Departure

Tom Pence, the former chief investment officer of Conseco Capital Management of Carmel, Ind., left the firm Oct. 12 to join Strong Capital Management of Menomonee Falls, Wisc., because the latter is a growing business that offered better opportunities, Pence said.

Pence will run Strong's Enterprise Fund as well as two other funds that Strong will bring out later this year, he said. Pence said he was attracted to Strong because the firm is a growing company.

Pence also decided to leave because of troubles at Conseco Capital Management's parent company, he said. Pence said he found the ongoing problems at Conseco to be a distraction.

"It was a developing and ever changing situation," he said.

Pence's departure came as a surprise to Conseco Capital Management because the firm had agreed to give him the management of and a sizable equity stake in two hedge funds it was planning to introduce later this year. The firm has brought suit against Pence, claiming he breached his obligations under the terms of the agreement. The lawsuit has no merit because he did not have a contract with Conseco, Pence said.

Strong has a hedge fund business and allows some of its managers to run them, he said. Although there are no plans for him to run a hedge fund for Strong, that opportunity could arise in the future, he said.

Strong has hired three other Conseco portfolio managers, Erik Voss, Mark Babka and Nick Truitt, who will help run the three Strong funds from Indianapolis, Pence said.