March 22, 2018 / 6:41 PM / a month ago

Hot hedge fund Coatue hires ex-Och-Ziff executive: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) - James Keith “JK” Brown, a top hedge fund marketer who left Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC last year, is set to join Coatue Management LLC to lead its investor relations unit, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Philippe Laffont’s Coatue is again one of the hedge fund industry’s hot managers after double-digit investment gains in 2017 and early this year. The New York-based firm is best known for investing in technology stocks and has swelled to manage at least $12 billion last year.

Och-Ziff, by comparison, has faced unwelcome attention of late related to management and regulatory issues even as performance has improved and assets have stabilized.

Brown joined Och-Ziff in 2003 - before it went public - and until last spring served as head of investor relations. He was replaced later in 2017 by Lee Minton and Nathan Urquhart, who are now co-heads of the fundraising-focused unit, according to the firm’s website. Brown did not respond to a request for comment.

“It’s hard enough to raise money for hedge funds now even without internal drama,” Scott Fletcher, a partner at asset management-focused executive search firm Jamesbeck Global Partners LLC, said on Thursday. “It’s not surprising to me that people are leaving OZ.”

More recent departures from $33 billion Och-Ziff, also known as “OZ,” include head of Asia equities Hermes Li, head of global commodities Chaitanya Mehra, and head of corporate communications Joe Snodgrass.

According to people familiar with the moves, Li plans to open his own investment business; Mehra is setting up a new firm backed by hedge fund firm Millennium Management; and Snodgrass is now head of branding and communications at Millennium.

A spokesman for OZ declined to comment.

The New York-based firm, which invests in a wide range of assets from stocks to bonds, announced in January that Robert Shafir, a veteran wealth management executive, would succeed billionaire founder Daniel Och as chief executive officer. The move came as a surprise after OZ had previously indicated co-chief investment officer James “Jimmy” Levin was the heir apparent.

In September 2016, U.S. authorities announced that OZ and Och had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and would pay fines to resolve probes into the firm’s role in bribing officials in several African countries.

In January this year, U.S. prosecutors charged a key figure in the matter, OZ’s former head of European investing, Michael Cohen, with fraud and obstruction of justice. Cohen’s lawyer said the charges were baseless.

Reporting by Lawrence Delevingne; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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