Alabama Inc.

Most state pension funds play it safe. David Bronner, Montgomery's maverick money manager, has bigger ideas

Waving a Cohiba cigar in his expansive office overlooking downtown Montgomery, Ala., David Bronner talks enthusiastically about his investments: in an airline just reorganized after bankruptcy, a chain of luxury golf resorts and a group of television stations. Is he a gunslinging Sunbelt entrepreneur in the mold of Ted Turner? A hedge-fund manager? A contrarian private-equity investor? Not even close. Bronner, 58, is, in his own words, "a government bureaucrat"--the chief executive of Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), the pension fund for 290,000 state workers and retirees. An unabashed cheerleader for Alabama who is comfortable in the spotlight, Bronner is overturning...

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