Clinton, Blair Advising Would-Be Hedge Fund

Nov 14 2011 | 2:15pm ET

A pair of insiders from the Bill Clinton White House have launched a new alternative investments and advisory firm, with the former president in tow as an adviser.

Teneo Capital was founded in June by Declan Kelly, who in March resigned as U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland, and Douglas Band, who joined Clinton's White House in 1995 and for the past decade has served the former president as his chief adviser. The merchant banking firm, which also has private equity ambitions, doesn't have a hedge fund yet, but Kelly told the Huffington Post, "we're looking to establish one."

Clinton isn't the only retired world leader to join Teneo as an adviser: His one-time British counterpart, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, is also working with the firm.

A spokesman for the former president said he "is involved purely in an advisory capacity," and that "his compensation is confidential." Kelly told the HuffPo that the State Department, which is led by the former president's wife, has approved the arrangement.

Kelly, too, most recently worked for Hillary Clinton, who named him her envoy to Northern Ireland two years ago, after Kelly left FTI Consulting, which had bought his own firm, Financial Dynamics, in 2006.

"I gave up everything, resigned from the job and agreed to a two-year noncompete, and went to Northern Ireland and did that job for two years," Kelly said. "And I resigned in March of this year, and in June we started the new business."

That new business includes the five staffers that Kelly hired and personally paid during his stint in Northern Ireland. But Kelly denies that he's seeking to profit from his two years unpaid work on behalf of the State Dept.

"I didn't need the State Dept. or the U.S. government's help to access the economic elite in Ireland," he told the HuffPo. "I have advised four prime ministers in Ireland, all pro bono. I had a business in Ireland for over a decade, I have a home there, I am an Irish citizen and I know virtually every senior business leader in the country. I've gained no personal benefit from this at all."

Teneo, which has offices in New York, Washington, London and Toronto, also boasts former Financial Dynamics executive Paul Keary as chief operating officer, Harry Van Dyke, formerly head of Morgan Stanley's banking business in Asia and Latin America, as head of its merchant bank, and former Clinton and New Jersey senator and governor (and now former MF Global CEO) Jon Corzine aide Tom Shea.

Separately, the first member of the Clinton family to enter the hedge fund world is getting her feet wet in another field: television journalism. Chelsea Clinton, the former president's only child, has signed on as a full-time special correspondent for NBC News. She is to work on NBC's "Making a Difference" series, chronicling volunteering efforts.

Clinton worked for Avenue Capital Group before leaving the hedge fund to study public health at Columbia University. She is now working on a Ph.D. in that field at the University of Oxford in England, and will continue to do so in addition to her duties for NBC. Clinton is also married to hedge fund manager Marc Mezvinsky, a former Goldman Sachs banker and 3G Capital Management trader who is said to be preparing his own hedge fund.

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