By Trevor Hunnicutt and Jennifer Ablan
NEW YORK, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Guggenheim Partners LLC said on Tuesday that its chief executive officer, Mark Walter, has no current plans to step down and is not being pushed out of the investment firm he helped found, denying reports to the contrary.
A source told Reuters that at least one member of Guggenheim's board of directors has pressed Walter to leave the firm after he became the subject of news coverage.
Bloomberg News reported earlier Tuesday that Walter may step away from day-to-day management of Guggenheim, while The Wall Street Journal later reported that the billionaire has told colleagues he is considering stepping down as CEO.
"It's patently false," said Michael Sitrick, a spokesman for Guggenheim.
Scott Minerd, the global chief investment officer of Guggenheim and a closely watched investor, has repeatedly sidestepped questions about Walter in numerous interviews with Reuters in recent months.
Among questions he sidestepped was comment on a report that first appeared in the Financial Times that there was a "power struggle" between Minerd and Walter. Both men previously denied that report.
In a recent interview, Minerd said his focus is to grow the asset-management company, which as of June 30 had $290 billion under management.
"Our next stop is $500 billion," Minerd said last Friday. "Years ago, we were asked about our risk management. Now, they are saying 'Wow, you have consistent performance,'" Minerd said of the factors driving cash into Guggenheim's mutual funds this year.
Guggenheim also faces scrutiny from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about an investment it made in a London-listed company focused on banking operations in Africa, according to a person familiar with the matter. Guggenheim declined to comment on that examination.
The company, Atlas Mara Ltd, was co-founded by former Barclays Plc CEO Bob Diamond. Atlas Mara did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment after normal business hours. The SEC declined to comment on its activities.
News stories have also questioned Walter's relationship with an employee, Alexandra Court, and her elevation to a role overseeing institutional distribution. Court is in the process of negotiating a possible exit from the company, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Sitrick, the Guggenheim spokesman, on Tuesday said that Court and Walter "only have a business relationship," and declined to comment further.
Guggenheim is well known for big deals, including leading a purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club in 2012, with a group that included basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
The firm has ties to one of the best-known surnames in finance, a dynasty that includes the founder of a 19th century mining collosus as well as the philanthropist behind New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Guggenheim Partners has been in talks for a deal to sell its exchange-traded funds business to money manager Invesco Ltd , a person familiar with the matter told Reuters in early August. (Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Leslie Adler)