Nuveen Muni Head Steps Down on Heels of Legal Settlement

The firm said 30-year veteran John Miller will be replaced by current taxable muni lead Daniel Close.

Nuveen’s head of municipal investing, John Miller, will retire after a 30-year career building the division’s assets under management to $188 billion, TIAA’s investment arm announced Monday.

The firm noted on the same day that it had reached a settlement with Preston Hollow Community Capital LLC, which alleged in a 2020 complaint that Miller had used “threats and lies” to damage Preston Hollow’s business relationships. The firms did not disclose the terms of the settlement, but they announced that Nuveen will be a “significant minority investor” in Preston Hollow.

Miller, who joined Nuveen LLC in 1996, began leading the municipal investment team in 2007, including its $17.7 billion high-yield municipal bond fund, which makes bets on the riskiest government debt. He will continue to work as a portfolio manager until his retirement on June 1, according to the firm.

“I am deeply grateful for my years at Nuveen and retire with a profound sense of pride in all that our dedicated and extremely talented team accomplished,” Miller said in a statement.

Miller is being replaced as head of municipal investing by Daniel Close, a portfolio manager who has been running Nuveen’s taxable municipals business. Close, who began his investment career in 1998, will oversee a group of 80 investment professionals and will be a manager on funds such as the high-yield municipal bond fund. Stephen Candido has joined Close in managing that fund, according to the company’s website.

The transition will include the firm leveraging its “deep bench of senior executives” to move management responsibility for 10 of the firm’s more than 60 municipal bond funds, according to the announcement. Nuveen will make no changes to its separately managed accounts, investment-grade municipals or taxable municipals businesses.  

The settlement with Preston Hollow comes after four years of legal battles stemming from a 2020 complaint alleging Miller had called broker/dealers such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to caution them against pitching Preston Hollow’s municipal bond offerings. In the complaint, Preston Hollow positioned itself as a “burgeoning contender in the high-yield municipal bond market” that Miller was seeking to “eliminate.”

“Nuveen’s conduct constituted tortious interference with Preston Hollow’s business relations with six different broker-dealers … and caused actual economic harm with respect to Preston Hollow’s relationship with each of those broker-dealers,” the firm alleged.

A Delaware Court of Chancery judge ruled that Nuveen illegally interfered with Preston Hollow’s business but concluded that damages were “too speculative to be determined.” Preston Hollow then sought damages in a separate case in Delaware, a claim that was dismissed, and appealed in 2022. It also sought further recourse through antitrust litigation filed in a federal court in Manhattan.

According to Monday’s announcement Monday, the settlement resolves all outstanding litigation claims against Nuveen and Miller. Nuveen’s investment in the firm will go toward funding Preston Hollow’s strategy of “direct sourcing and structuring of financings to help deliver meaningful and measurable social impact to borrowers and their respective communities,” according to the announcement.

“It is a testament to both organizations that Preston Hollow and Nuveen kept the lines of communication open throughout the litigation, and we’re pleased to have reached a constructive resolution that supports our shared interests and the broader municipal market,” Jim Thompson, Preston Hollow chairman and CEO, said in a statement.