/ By Albert Hecht /
Rumors are now rife on Wall Street that Marc Lasry co-founder of the prominent distressed-debt hedge fund corporation, Avenue Capital Group LLC, is very much on the short list to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to France.
Former President Bill Clinton was apparently the one that leaked the news that President Barack Obama is very interested in offering Lasry this highly prestigious post in general recognition of his tremendous efforts during the 2012 presidential campaign, during which he was responsible for raising more than $500, 000 in contributions.
If the speculation regarding Lasry’s post proves to be true, he can set off for his stint in Paris with a clear mind knowing that the company that he founded back in 1995 with his sister Sonia Gardner will be in very safe hands. Not only will Sonia be staying at the helm, but also that Avenue Capital will be appointing Richard Furst to be chief investment officer. With the company since 2004, Furst has gained a strong reputation in the hedge fund market, currently in charge of Avenue Capital’s considerable European investment funds, as chief investment officer.
Both the news of Furst’s promotion and the fact that managing partner Sonia Gardner circulated an email to all of Avenue Capital’s principal investors, which while neither confirming or denying the media speculation regarding her brother’s forthcoming appointment, issued an assurance that it will be business as usual with Richard Furst taking on “added responsibilities” in addition to his European portfolio.
Gardner went on to remind Avenue Capital’s investors that she had been involved in the day-to-day management of the hedge fund for close to two decades as president and managing partner, ostensibly sending out a message that while she and her brother’s obvious talents had shaped the company, it was far from being a one-man operation, employing more than 200 highly talented staff, organized into multiple investment teams headed by portfolio managers among the most experienced and capable in the industry.
With the ambassadorial appointments that President Obama wants to make as he enters into his second spell as president not to be officially announced for around two weeks, it was Bill Clinton who let the cat out of the bag regarding Lasry’s impending appointment. White House watchers reported that Clinton dropping heavy hints not once but twice at recent fundraising events, with one of the events being held in Lasry’s home. .
Speculation at that level usually tends to have some weight, and if Lasry does receive Obama’s nomination and subsequent approval from the U.S. Senate, the fifty-three-year-old would gain the distinction of becoming the first hedge fund manager to serve as an American ambassador.
Marc Lasry, whoemigrated to the U.S. with his family from Morocco when he was just seven years old, began his career in debt management, diversifying into distressed securities when he founded company debt brokerage Amroc Investments in 1989 in partnership with his sister Sonia Gardner.
In 1995 the brother and sister pairing established the Avenue Capital Group with a working capital of just seven million dollars, succeeded in growing the hedge fund to such a level that it now handles more than $12 billion in assets.
Lasry is married to Cathy and a father of five, one of whom is currently a member of Obama’s White House Staff.