Zenni’s New Firm Features Old Friends

Nov 6 2006 | 5:41pm ET

Black Diamond Capital Management co-founder James Zenni hasn’t wasted any time getting his new alternatives firm up and running.

Zenni, who left Black Diamond last month and sold his ownership stake, has formed Z Capital Partners in Lake Forest, Ill., with a cohort of former Black Diamond employees. The new firm’s first project is a credit hedge fund—seeded with Zenni’s capital—investing in senior-secured junk debt. Zenni said a distressed-debt private equity fund is also in the offing.

A half-dozen Black Diamond alums have signed on to the new venture, including Christopher Kipley as principal, Rahul Sawhney as managing director and Jon Schmugge as CFO. In addition, former Citadel Investment Group associate Melonie Clark has joined as head of the new firm’s treasury and settlements department, assisted by former ING Investment Management funding and settlement manager Chad Wettstein.

Also joining are former Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Auerbach as consulting general counsel, Synergy-Search founder Courtney McDermott as head of human resources, and Goldman Sachs’ Hang Yuan as chief information officer.

The firm says several new hires will join early next year.

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