The decision by Barron’s editors to do a story on James Dondero came as no big surprise to any serious investor. The CEO and co-founder of the successful alternative investments firm, Highland Capital, has won the admiration and respect of both his peers and clients for his uncanny abilities of identifying and picking sure winners.
Up Close with John Dondero
James, 56, is a self-confessed introvert who cherishes some alone time to think critically and analytically about the pressing problems he encounters on a daily. It is only upon closer scrutiny that one discovers how different Highland really is compared to its industry peers. One, clients pay less for consultation here and, two, the firm’s not so keen on adding security funds to their client’s portfolios.
Dondero has championed a top-heavy investment strategy at Highland. His risk-averse mindset of placing bold leveraged bets on various industry sectors like real estate, energy and small caps has transformed his capital firm to the envy of the world. In 1993, James teamed up with Mark Okada and they set up an insurance company which would eventually become Highland Capital. The founders then moved the company from Los Angeles to Dallas citing better taxes, geographical positioning, and the cost-opportunity as the primary reasons. Dallas becomes the adopted home for the duo who now sponsor a variety of local causes and events.
Highlands Modus Operandi
Ideally, Highland got set up to be a credit firm specializing in Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLO’s). Their growth trajectory, however, later saw them venturing into alternative mutual fund investments. That notwithstanding, Dondero reiterates that the investment direction remains the same as it was back when they opened. At Highland Capital, ideas are always moving up and down the command chain. The top executive’s chip in suggestions to their junior associates to think and pore over while the juniors are also expected to contribute their suggestions to the bosses.
About James Dondero
James Dondero’s name is synonymous with success in the mutual fund investment realm. The New Jersey-born industrialist attended the University of Virginia. He holds a degree in Accounting and a Master’s in Finance. John is a renowned philanthropic. He has donated millions and pledged more to charity over the three decades he’s worked at Highland Capital. He supports artists in Dallas. He funded the app, Reasoning Mind. The application was designed to help kindergarten kids with learning.
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