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Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin says Citadel may bail on troubled Chicago

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Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin says his investment firm might have to move its headquarters out of Chicago due to a slew of problems in the city, including its high crime rate.

The billionaire hedge fund manager had a sit-down at The Economic Club of Chicago on Monday, where he was reminded of a 2013 quote where he described Chicago and Illinois as a city and state “with broken schools, bankrupt pensions, rising crime, a declining tax base and public corruption.”

Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

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When asked how he felt about how Chicago is doing eight years later, Griffin replied, “The bottom line is, it’s even worse.”

“We have our work cut out for us because we have a government in our state that continually puts votes in front of people, votes in front of lives, votes in front of schools,” Griffin said. “We need to start to take the state back inch by inch from people that put their politics first and put our people second.”

Griffin explained that despite Chicago being Citadel’s home base, the firm now has more than 1,000 employees in its New York office, which has become what he called “the center point” of the company’s hedge fund. He added that if Chicago doesn’t “change course,” his company will leave the city in “years, not decades.”

“It is becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city which has so much violence,” the CEO said. “Chicago is like Afghanistan on a good day, and that’s a problem.”

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“There is nowhere that you can feel safe today walking home at 9:30 at night, and you worry about your kids going to and from school,” he explained. “That is no way for our city to exist, and it is really hard to recruit people to Chicago. When they read the headlines, they know the facts.”

“I can’t look people in the eye like I did 20 years ago [and say], ‘This is a great place to raise a family. This is a great place to call home,’” Griffin said. “I can’t give that same speech today. I can’t in good conscience.”



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