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Vaskevitch joins Serone Capital with Zenith high yield fund

Alex Vaskevitch has joined Serone Capital Management as partner, adding the Zenith high-yield bond fund onto Serone’s platform, according to a statement.

Vaskevitch joins from boutique investment manager BCM & Partners, where he managed the Zenith fund from October 2009. He took over management of the fund in October 2008, to deliver net returns in excess of 70%.

Prior to BCM, Vaskevitch was at BNP Paribas on its distressed prop desk, and later at ABN AMRO, where he worked on the high-yield capital markets desk.

The fund focuses on the European high-yield market, with the ability to invest in multiple currencies in addition to the euro, such as sterling and dollars.

Serone Capital is an asset management and advisory firm with a focus on European credit opportunities. – Staff reports

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Bankruptcy claims trading climbed 6% in 2011; near-peak in December

The secondary market for bankruptcy claims grew about 6% in 2011, with about $36 billion in face value of claims changing hands, according to the latest report from SecondMarket, which runs a forum for trading such claims.

That figure ignores one “anomalous $6.7 billion trade” made in the third quarter of 2010, the report said. But while the value of claims traded increased in 2011, the number of individual transfers hardly budged, increasing by only 49 transfers from 2010, to a total of 11,352.

Bankruptcy claims trading in 2011 was more sporadic than in 2010. While there were fewer large Chapter 11 filings in 2011 compared to 2010, the report said, the total liabilities of new filings nearly doubled in 2011, driven largely by MF Global on Oct. 31 and American Airlines on Nov. 29. Those two cases alone reflect $69 billion of total liabilities, more than all of 2010 combined.

Still, trades in claims on Lehman Brothers continued to dominate the market, representing 90% of dollar volume traded in 2011. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. saw 6,155 transfers, totaling $32 billion, leading all cases in both number of transfers and face value traded. Lehman’s broker-dealer arm, Lehman Brothers Inc., was the third most actively traded case, with more than $332 million in face value traded.

December saw near-peak trading volume for the year, with $3.76 billion of face value traded, an increase of 54% from November’s totals.

SecondMarket began tracking 21 new cases in December, with cumulative liabilities of more than $4.1 billion. MF Global saw its first claims trades in December, with four transfers totaling about $950,000.

Washington Mutual re-entered the top-10 list for the first time since May, with seven transfers totaling $15.4 million. The company filed its seventh amended Chapter 11 plan on Dec. 12, under which unsecured claimholders will receive a full recovery. A confirmation hearing is scheduled for Feb. 16.

W.R. Grace reappeared as one of the most actively traded cases in December. Thirty-two of its 40 transfers involved one particular creditor selling claims it had acquired throughout the year, according to SecondMarket. The specialty-chemicals company’s long-running Chapter 11, linked to thousands of asbestos lawsuits, is still awaiting approval of a reorganization plan from the U.S. District Court after receiving bankruptcy court approval last January.

Real Mex Restaurants was one of the most actively traded cases for the second consecutive month. The company is in the process of selling its assets via a Section 363 sale. The auction is set for Feb. 2. – John Bringardner

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Stellus Capital spins out of DE Shaw to sub-advise $1.4B of assets

A group of five veteran financiers this month have spun out of middle-market lender D.E. Shaw to form their own Houston-based firm, Stellus Capital Management. The firm initially will serve as a sub-advisor to D.E. Shaw on a $1.4 billion portfolio of assets, but it plans to fundraise in the future and lead its own investments in middle-market companies, according to chief investment officer Robert Ladd, one of the five founders.

As part of its sub-advisor role with D.E. Shaw, Stellus will help evaluate select new investments for D.E. Shaw, including debt and private equity placements in public and privately held companies. Investments will range from $10-100 million for companies that generate at least $5 million of EBITDA up to about $50 million of EBITDA, according to Stellus. Debt investments can take the form of first- and second-liens, unitranche structures, mezzanine, and convertible debt.

Ladd has 31 years of financing experience under his belt and has particular expertise in the energy sector. He joined D.E. Shaw in 2004, and prior to that was president of Duke Energy North America and president and CEO of Duke Capital Partners.

Three of the other four founders also worked at Duke Capital in the past, including Dean D’Angelo, Joshua Davis, and Todd Overbergen. The fifth founder, Todd Huskinson, worked at BearingPoint (formerly known as KPMG Consulting) prior to joining D.E. Shaw in 2005. – Kelly Thompson

Follow Kelly on Twitter @MMktDoyenne for middle-market financing news.

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Neways Enterprises completes out-of-court restructuring

Neways Enterprises, a distributor of dietary supplements and personal-care products, has completed an out-of-court restructuring that leaves Z Capital Partners and S.A.C. Capital Advisors in control of the Springville, Utah-based company. Neways said Golden Gate Capital, which purchased a controlling stake in 2006, will continue to have an equity stake in the business.

Neways announced in November that it was in discussions with lenders to refinance debt. The company defaulted on about $235-250 million of debt in May last year, according to published reports.

Golden Gate purchased Neways in November 2006 for roughly $500 million, according to sources. To finance the buyout, Golden Gate obtained $360 million in senior secured loans from Jefferies and put up $150 million in equity, as reported previously by S&P LCD.

Jefferies closed the senior financing as a $15 million revolver, a $185 million, 4.5-year B term loan and a $160 million, five-year second-lien term loan. Leverage at closing was 1.9x through the first-lien tranches and 3.1x through the second-lien. – Kelly Thompson

Follow Kelly on Twitter @MMktDoyenne for middle-market financing news.

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LSTA elects 2012 board of directors; Barclays’ Kitei named chair

The Loan Syndications and Trading Association today elected its 2012 officers and board of directors at its annual meeting in New York, naming Jonathan Kitei of Barclays Capital as chair.

In addition, Invesco’s Greg Stoeckle and Highbridge Principal Strategies’ Dave Frey were chosen as vice chairs, while GE Capital’s Kevin Burke was elected treasurer and Octagon Credit Investors’ Andrew Gordon was named secretary.

“We are extremely pleased to have such experienced and dedicated loan market professionals serving in our leadership positions,” said Bram Smith, executive director of the LSTA. “The loan market continues to face a number of issues, especially on the regulatory front, and we’ll benefit greatly from their experience and leadership as we work through the year.”

Other members of the board are as follows:

  • John Abate, Silver Point
  • Brian Callahan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Bill Dobson, Deutsche Bank
  • Austin Garrison, J.P. Morgan
  • Kim Harris, Sankaty
  • Leland Hart, BlackRock
  • Tim Hartshorn, Fidelity
  • Mike Henderlong, Morgan Stanley
  • David Miller, Credit Suisse
  • Manish Mital, Halcyon
  • Dan Norman, ING
  • Craig Russ, Eaton Vance
  • Tom Stein, Goldman Sachs
  • Joe Wilson, Citigroup
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Avoca London hires Rachel Black to head credit hedge fund capital raising

Avoca Capital Holdings has appointed Rachel Black as head of capital raising for the firm’s credit hedge fund team, based in London.

Black joins from Concerto Asset Management, where she was head of marketing and business development. She has also previously headed the credit hedge fund sales desk at Deutsche Bank.

In April 2011, Avoca launched a hedge fund offering in European credit, and is seeking to increase capital for its two long/short credit funds. Both funds are led by Simon Thorp.

Avoca has €6 billion of assets under management. – Staff reports

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Mediacom notes price at par to yield 7.25%; terms

Mediacom today completed an offering of senior notes via bookrunners Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, and SunTrust, according to sources. Terms were inked at the tight end of talk, with a $50 million upsizing. The cable operator returns to market after nearly three years to pay down its D term loan. The company said it will also draw on a subsidiary RC to fund the repayment. There was $294 million outstanding in the TLD due 2017 as of Sept. 30, 2011, according to SEC filings. Terms:

Issuer Mediacom LLC / Mediacom Capital
Ratings B-/B3
Amount $250 million
Issue senior notes (144A)
Coupon 7.25%
Price 100
Yield 7.25%
Spread n/a
FRN eq. n/a
Maturity Feb. 15, 2022
Call nc5
Trade Jan. 31, 2012
Settle Feb. 7, 2012 (T+5)
Books BAML/JPM/WF/DB/Sun
Jt Leads Citi/RBC
Co’s.
Px talk 7.25-7.5%
Notes w/ three-year equity clawback for 35% @ 107.25; carries T+50 make-whole call; w/ change-of-control put @ 101; upsized by $50 million.
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Stone joins Gleacher to head sponsor coverage

Gleacher & Company Securities has hired James Stone to lead the financial sponsor coverage practice of the firm’s investment banking division.

Stone, who joins Gleacher as a managing director, has over 15 years of investment banking experience and has advised private equity firms and other clients on a wide range of matters, including debt and equity capital raising and mergers and acquisitions.

Stone was most recently at the U.S. division of Macquarie Capital, where he served as a managing director of corporate finance focusing on financial sponsor coverage. Prior to that, he was a managing director of corporate finance focusing on financial sponsor coverage at Imperial Capital. Previously, he was a managing director in the leveraged finance and financial sponsor coverage groups at Credit Suisse and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, prior to their merger. – Staff reports

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Centerview hires Bosacco, Finger for restructuring group

New York-based investment bank and advisory Centerview Partners has hired John Bosacco and Jeffrey Finger to work as senior managing directors in the restructuring group, the company announced. Both join after more than 10 years at Miller Buckfire. Along with Sam Greene and Marc Puntus, who joined in July 2011, that’s four managing directors in the restructuring business coming over from Miller Buckfire in just over six months.

Bosacco worked on transactions involving companies such as Charter Communications, Dana Corp. and Greatwide Logistics Services, while Finger advised on transactions involving Reader’s Digest Association, Lear Corp. and Dura Automotive Systems, according to a Bloomberg article reporting the announcement. – Max Frumes