If you’ve been paying attention to news from the alternative asset industry, you have probably been hearing James Dondero’s name mentioned in connection with RAIT Financial Trust. The reason for this is simple: James Dondero is the president and co-founder of Highland Capital Management. Highland Capital recently entered into a cooperation agreement with RAIT Financial Trust. As president of Highland Capital, Dondero was understandably very involved with the situation. Why is it that the two entities entered into a cooperation agreement, though? The article that is linked to on this page provides some clarity. To understand it all better, however, it helps to know more about Dondero himself.James Dondero was born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey. He excelled in school from the time that he was a young boy. He was also always very ambitious and motivated. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Virginia. He graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce in 1984 with high honors. He came away with a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in finance and accounting. His impressive work at school landed him a coveted position as an analyst with the Morgan Guaranty Training Program, which helped him to establish himself in the industry.
In 1985, James Dondero took a position as a corporate bond analyst for American Express. He stayed on with the company until 1989. During his time there, he managed more than $1 billion in fixed income assets for his employer. Yet again, his experience with American Express helped him to establish himself even more. It also made him realize that he was ready to strike out for himself. He and his business partner, Mark Okada, entered into a joint venture with Protective Life Insurance Corporation in 1990. This venture evolved into the Protective Asset Management Company, or PAMCO.Protective Life continued to own a major stake in PAMCO until 1997, when James Dondero and Mark Okada bought them out and assumed complete control. The following year, they renamed their venture Highland Capital Management. The alternative investment management firm was a success from the very start, and it has continued to grow at a rapid clip in the years since. As of 2014, the company had approximately $18.7 billion in assets under management. Today, it is one of the largest and most successful global alternative credit managers in the world. The independently owned company is headquartered in Dallas but also has offices in Sao Paolo, Singapore, New York City and Seoul.
As the president of an investment firm that employs more than 180 people worldwide, James Dondero is a very influential figure in the industry. As a result, whenever he is involved in any sort of deal or agreement, his name appears instantly across the news and the internet. It should be noted that throughout his career, Dondero has only conducted himself with the utmost honesty and integrity. His pioneering work in the Collateralized Loan Obligation, or CLO, market had and continues to have a major impact on the industry.So, why did Highland Capital decide to enter into a cooperation agreement with RAIT Financial Trust? And how does James Dondero enter into all of it? As for the latter question, the very fact that he is president of Highland Capital means that Dondero has a vested interest in his company’s dealings. As important as RAIT is to Highland Capital, it makes sense that Dondero would be directly involved.
In November, Highland Capital disclosed that it owned 5.9 percent, or nearly 5.3 million shares, of RAIT’s outstanding common shares.As a result of this disclosure, Highland Capital desired representation on RAIT’s Board of Trustees. RAIT is a real estate investment trust, or REIT, that provides commercial real estate financing throughout the U.S. It specializes in a full-service CRE lending platform that offers convenient and customized lending solutions to owners of commercial real estate. As per the cooperation agreement, RAIT will appoint one of two candidates for trustee who have been recommended by Highland Capital at its 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The other recommended candidate will be appointed within 120 days of when the agreement was reached. James Dondero and other top executives are satisfied with this outcome.