Highland Capital Management, the world's second largest leveraged loan asset management firm, has hired Jack Yang, the ex-global head of leveraged finance products at Merrill Lynch, as a partner in charge of business development. Yang will head Dallas-based Highland's recently established New York office where he will focus on growing the business through potential acquisitions of asset management firms and new products. "The firm will use its capital to take advantage of both organic growth opportunities and acquisitions which leverage the firm's investment acumen and success," said Yang. He declined to specify potential acquisition targets.
Highland already manages par and distressed loan assets in a mixture of structured funds, hedge funds and retail funds. "Structured products have been and continue to be a core element of our business. We look to expand and diversify our activities with regard to private equity, hedge fund concepts and capital structure arbitrage investing," noted James Dondero, president of Highland. The firm currently has $9 billion in assets under management.
Explaining his decision to join Highland and the reasons behind the firm's move to expand, Yang commented that Highland is well positioned to capitalize on institutional investor diversification away from equities toward fixed income and alternative investments. "Credit and distressed investing has delivered attractive returns compared to conventional and public and private equity," he explained. Yang joins a bench that includes Mark Okada, managing partner and chief investment officer, and Todd Travers, partner and senior portfolio manager.
Prior to joining Merrill in 1994 to build the firm's syndicated loan business, Yang worked at Chemical Bank. Yang left Merrill last October with a group that included Harold Siegel and Neil Brisson (LMW, 10/23).