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Tuesday, November 13 Business

Greenwich hedge fund slated to receive state funds for jobs program

Greenwich-based financial firm AQR Capital Management will likely receive another $5 million in state funds as part of Connecticut jobs initiative, the First Five Plus Program.

Pending approval later this week, AQR will receive additional funds for its continued expansion plans under the state program intended to facilitate large companies’ growth. Since its launch in 2011, First Five has doled out funds to corporations including health insurer Cigna, consumer-goods company Henkel and Synchrony Financial, a General Electric spinoff.

With the objective of promoting job creation and retention, Connecticut has provided more than a dozen companies with financial assistance amounting to several hundred million dollars given in the form of standard loans, forgivable loans, tax credits and other methods.

This will mark the second portion of funds AQR would be awarded through First Five. In late 2016, the State Bond Commission approved its first portion consisting of a $13 million loan that can be forgiven if AQR creates 217 jobs while retaining 580 in two years. In total, the financial firm is eligible for loans worth $28 million and $7 million in grants, dispensed in phases as the company meets milestones.

The terms of the loan include an interest rate of 2 percent for 10 years, according to the bond commission’s Feb. 16 agenda.

Late last year, AQR signed a lease to expand its Greenwich office footprint by nearly 90,000 square feet, presumably taking over space recently vacated by reinsurer PartnerRe, which moved to Stamford.

AQR employs around 900 employees in its offices located around the world and has $224 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2017, according to its website. That’s up from around 750 employees and roughly $172 billion in AUM its website listed a year earlier.

“As part of our ongoing participation in the First Five program, we have been working to further expand AQR’s positive economic contribution in the state, enabling us to continue to attract and retain the best talent and serve our clients well over the long term,” an AQR spokesperson told Hearst Connecticut Media Monday in an email.

So far, First Five has generated hundreds of millions in tax revenue, but critics have asked whether the program can accomplish sustained prosperity.

“We’ve been making sure that we are treating these investments extremely carefully,” Connecticut’s economic development commissioner, Catherine Smith, said in an interview last year. “We underwrite each and every one of these deals, so the taxpayer gets paid back. The state comes out ahead financially.”

Includes prior reporting by Paul Schott.

Contact the writer at mbennett@greenwichtime.com; Twitter @Macaela_

Macaela J. Bennett|Business Reporter

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