Wasserstein Team Launches New Fund –

new york – A group of old hands in the emerging markets, led by Peter Marber, Michael Gagliardi and Hernando Perez Anez, have bought themselves out of Wasserstein Perella Emerging Markets (WPEM) and launched a new venture – Trust Company of the Atlantic.

The group will be building off a core of roughly $300 million in managed accounts transferred from WPEM, while rolling two small pre-existing funds into one larger vehicle called the Atlantic Global Opportunities Fund. Marber, president of the Atlantic, anticipates growing the fund to roughly $200 million within the next two years. Both the private accounts and the fund will invest globally, he said, predominantly in debt and currency instruments with a small number of opportunistic equity overlays.

But Atlantic’s predilection for debt instruments does not mean that the firm will ignore opportunities in equity, Marber added. Early next year, the firm also will launch a private equity fund to take advantage of the opportunities for diversification afforded by that market.

“The fact that the listed markets have fits and spurts of illiquidity means that anybody who really wants to maximize returns over the long haul in emerging markets probably should be in private equity,” Marber said.

The group’s departure from the joint venture with Wasserstein Perella was a largely amicable process, Marber said, resulting from a divergence of opinion concerning the direction of WPEM. “The relationship with Wasserstein was extremely successful, but we saw the [global financial] crisis as an opportune time to take the business in different directions,” he said. “Wasserstein itself wants to take its asset management position in different directions as well.”

Wasserstein Perella will not be reinitiating operations in the emerging debt markets, a company spokesman said.

Drawing on a wealth of experience from WPEM professionals, and some new hires, Atlantic provides comprehensive service in the emerging markets, Marber said, both on the buy side and in corporate advisory.

Lisa Sherk and Denise Simon, both managing directors at the Atlantic and former asset managers at WPEM, will join Marber and chief executive Michael Gagliardi in handling portfolio management.

Another ex-WPEM and SBC staffer, vice chairman Hernando Perez, will manage the firm’s corporate finance, advisory and structured finance activities. Perez, who has been in the emerging markets business for more than 20 years, already has gotten the ball rolling by arranging an $80 million private placement for Mexican holding company Grupo Pulsar. Perez and director Cristina Almeida will be concentrating their efforts on structured finance opportunities, Marber said. “There’s a great demand for asset-backed financing,” he explained. “In Latin America we’re just at the beginning stages of the securitization market, and Hernando possesses great expertise [in that area].”

Atlantic soon will establish an even more direct presence in Latin America, Marber said, with the creation of a Sao Paulo, Brazil branch under the direction of Claudio Rodriguez, formerly of Banco Bozano Simonsen and Multibanco.