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Exclusive: Avenue prepares for life post-Lasry

March 18, 2013: 11:19 AM ET

Avenue Capital names Rich Furst as chief investment officer.

Marc Lasry

Marc Lasry

FORTUNE -- President Obama soon will nominate hedge fund manager Marc Lasry to be the next U.S. Ambassador to France, and his firm is reaching out to investors about its future plans.

Fortune has obtained an email sent by Avenue Capital president Sonia Gardner, who co-founded Avenue with Lasry (her brother) back in 1995. The big news is that Rich Furst will take over Lasry's top-level investment strategy responsibilities, as chief investment officer. He also will continue to lead European strategy. No word yet on who will assume Lasry's fundraising efforts.

Gardner does not specifically mention the Ambassador job, except to say that her email was promoted by "recent speculation in the media regarding Avenue." She is correct that many reporters have written that Lasry was expected to get the France (or maybe UK) job, but the news was basically confirmed via an offhand comment last week by former President Clinton. Clinton's daughter Chelsea used to work at Avenue.

Here is a copy of Gardner's entire investor letter:

Dear Avenue Capital Investors,

Many of you have asked about the recent speculation in the media regarding Avenue. While we cannot comment on media speculation, I would like to provide you with a general update on the firm.

Since Marc and I founded Avenue almost 18 years ago, the firm has grown into a strong institution with more than 200 talented professionals globally. Having managed the firm for nearly two decades as President and Managing Partner, I could not be more proud of where Avenue is today. The Avenue team includes the best and brightest Portfolio Managers and investment teams, as well as a best-in-class institutional infrastructure extending across accounting, compliance, IT, risk management, business development, and legal departments.

Reflecting the increasingly global nature of the financial markets, we are pleased to announce that Richard Furst has been appointed the firm's Chief Investment Officer. In this position, Rich will provide high-level oversight of our investment strategies on a worldwide basis. As you know, Rich has served as the Senior Portfolio Manager of the Europe Strategy since its inception, and started with Avenue in 2004 as a Portfolio Manager for the U.S. Strategy. Rich will continue to dedicate his time predominantly to the leadership of the Europe Strategy, and, separately, in his role as Avenue's CIO, will spend a portion of his time providing high-level investment oversight globally. The Senior Portfolio Managers and Portfolio Managers leading each of our strategies will continue to be responsible for day-to-day investing and managing their independent investment teams within each of those strategies. None of this will change with Rich's appointment as CIO.

Avenue is performing well and is poised to continue to generate strong performance for its investors. As you know, several of our funds generated double-digit returns again in 2012, and importantly, the senior members of the Avenue team are invested meaningfully alongside you. We believe that the firm is extremely well positioned to continue to protect and grow investors' assets.

Avenue's global team remains completely focused on producing attractive, risk-adjusted returns for our investors and continuing to earn your trust and confidence. Please feel free to reach out to me, or any member of the Avenue team, if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Sonia Gardner
President and Managing Partner

Avenue had approximately $12.2 billion of assets under management through the end of January, and has more than 200 global employees. This includes 65 investment professionals, plus more than 15 senior portfolio managers and portfolio managers overseeing a variety of investment strategies.

An Avenue spokesman declined to comment on the letter.

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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