© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Miami’s cityscape and a port are reflected in the sunroof of a car in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) – Citadel, the $51 billion hedge fund founded by billionaire investor Ken Griffin, is moving its global headquarters to Miami from Chicago, becoming the latest investment firm to shift offices to Florida in the wake of the pandemic.

Griffin is the wealthiest resident in Illinois with an estimated net worth of $25 billion. The decision to relocate the hedge fund and Citadel Securities, the electronic trading firm, was motivated by Florida’s business-friendly climate and tax advantages, and concerns about rising crime rates in Chicago, people familiar with his thinking said.

“I am excited to have recently moved to Miami with my family and look forward to rapidly expanding Citadel in a city so rich in diversity and abounding with energy,” Griffin wrote to employees announcing the planned move in a note seen by Reuters. “Miami is a vibrant, growing metropolis that embodies the American Dream.”

The firm follows in the footsteps of prominent hedge fund managers Carl Icahn and Paul Singer whose firms moved to Florida from New York as employees longed for better weather and access to outdoor activities, a huge draw during the pandemic. Florida also does not collect state income tax.

Citadel is one of the world’s most successful hedge funds and has been headquartered in Chicago for more than three decades. The firm employs 1,000 people at it headquarters, 10% less than two years ago, a statistic that Citadel executives say underscores how tough it is to recruit top talent to Illinois. About 4,000 people work at the firm in 17 offices around the world.

Citadel executives have expressed concerns about crime in Chicago, noting a Citadel employee was stabbed a block from the office while walking to work, that someone tried to carjack Griffin’s vehicle, and that protests have occurred outside of the Chicago headquarters.

The firm’s move will deal another blow to Chicago’s business community after Boeing (NYSE:) recently said it would move its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia and Caterpillar (NYSE:) announced plans to relocate to Irving, Texas. And it will likely put a dent in philanthropic giving after Griffin, who was born in Florida, donated more than $600 million to local educational, cultural, medical and civic organizations.

At the start of the pandemic, Citadel established a beachhead at the Four Seasons Palm Beach hotel to ensure fluid trading as COVID-19 locked down many businesses.

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