| NEW YORK, March 15
NEW YORK, March 15 It's not every day that a
money manager gets tapped as the next ambassador to France, but
investors in Marc Lasry's $12 billion hedge fund Avenue Capital
could be facing that scenario.
Lasry, a longtime Democratic donor and chief executive
officer of the 18-year-old firm, is the frontrunner to be
nominated by President Obama as the next ambassador to France,
according to several people familiar with the situation.
Speaking at an event in Washington DC on Wednesday, former
President Bill Clinton said that Lasry had been notified by the
White House that he will be nominated for the post. Clinton's
remarks were first reported by Politico.
Neither the White House, nor Lasry returned a request for
comment on the nomination. But a person familiar with the
situation confirmed Clinton's remarks.
None of the sources were permitted to speak publicly about
the nomination process.
If Lasry is nominated and approved by the U.S. Senate, he
would become the first hedge fund manager to serve as
ambassador, a sign of the growing power of the $2 trillion
industry when it comes to political fundraising and political
In the event Lasry does decamp from his Park Avenue office
to the U.S embassy on Avenue Gabriel in Paris, it appears Avenue
Capital investors are unlikely to say bon voyage to the fund.
Officials with two institutional investors in Avenue Capital
said that over the years Lasry has increasingly handed over the
day-to-day management of the firm to his sister, Sonia Gardner.
The brother and sister duo founded the hedge fund that
specializes in distressed debt investment in 1995.
A representative for one of the institutional investors
referred to Lasry being more like a "chairman" than a hands-on
chief executive. The representative for the investor explained
the most important thing is that the investing teams managed by
15 senior portfolio managers at Avenue Capital stay together and
produce solid returns.
Lasry has told people close to him that he would like to
return to the hedge fund after his potential stint as ambassador
is over. Lawyers who represent the hedge fund industry said
Lasry could accomplish that by putting his hedge fund stake in a
so-called blind trust that would be administered by an outside
There's another reason investors may not pull money and
that's because about 80 percent of Avenue's assets are locked up
in private equity-like vehicles with more stringent redemption
policies, according to a person familiar with the fund. Just 20
percent of the firm's assets can be withdrawn by investors
either quarterly or annually.
Moroccan-born and fluent in French, the 53-year-old Lasry is
a longtime Democratic donor, with close ties to the Clinton
family. The former president's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, worked
for several years at Avenue Capital as an analyst.
Lasry is one of the few hedge fund managers who was a strong
supporter and fundraiser for Obama during his re-election
campaign last year.
Last June, Lasry hosted a $40,000 per plate fundraiser for
Obama at his Upper East Side five-story townhouse in Manhattan.
Married with five children, Lasry, who is an avid collector
of old comic books, has an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion
according to Forbes. In a November video interview with Reuters,
Lasry said collecting comic books is cheaper than collecting
rare art - favored by most other hedge fund managers.