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Hedge fund manager David Rocker, whose firm is at the center of a short-selling controversy involving


, is retiring.

Rocker has relinquished his portfolio management responsibilities as part of a management succession plan, according to a statement from Rocker Partners. His departure is effective Jan. 7, the statement says.

Rocker Partners isn't changing its investment approach, the statement from PR firm Rubenstein Associates says, adding that three years ago Rocker and his partners David and Marc Cohodes began to split duties at the Millburn, N.J. firm.

Rocker Partners owns a minority stake in


, publisher of this Web site. The firm was founded by Rocker in 1985. Unlike most short-sellers, Rocker has spoken out publicly and has earned the wrath of some of the companies he has targeted. He didn't respond to an email requesting comment.

Last year, Overstock filed a lawsuit alleging a wide-ranging conspiracy to manipulate the share price of the Internet retailer. Overstock alleges that research firm Gradient Analytics was in cahoots with short sellers including Rocker Partners. Both companies have denied wrongdoing.

Rocker is 63. His departure isn't related to the Overstock controversy, a spokeswoman says.

In 2003 testimony before the House of Representatives, Rocker argued that short sellers, who profit by betting that a stock's price will decline, play an important role in keeping markets honest.

"Short-sellers frequently serve as unpaid but self-interested detectives and have willingly shared their findings with the SEC," Rocker said.

and James J. Cramer, its co-founder and major shareholder, were subpoenaed in February in connection with a

Securities and Exchange Commission

investigation into Overstock's allegations. The company and other media firms including

Dow Jones


fought the government's request for information.

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