CDO specialist launches new structured finance firm

The former head of European collateralised debt obligations at Wachovia Securities has launched a new structured finance asset management firm with a team from the US bank, in what is the latest of a clutch of new specialist debt investment firms to have emerged.

Neil Basu, who ran Wachovia’s European CDO business for less than a year after joining from Nomura International in December 2006, founded Pearl Diver Capital last year, although the firm was authorised in January by the Financial Services Authority.

The other key staff from Wachovia’s CDO business include Chandrajit Chakraborty as partner, and Stephane Fievee, Anthony Hill and Frank Julia-Sala, according to the FSA register. Before Wachovia, Chakraborty and Fievee worked closely with Basu at Nomura.

Basu is one of the best-known structured finance bankers in the market. In 2006, while at Nomura, he led the team that engineered and launched an innovative collateralised fund obligation of private equity funds, called Diamond II, for investment firm, SVG Capital.

Other deals include a $800m (€590m) CFO for Temasek Singapore called Astrea Plc, a €1bn collateralised loan obligation for alternatives manager Cheyne Capital, and one of the first so-called SIV-lite structures in Europe, H2 Finance.

Basu said the team has recently hired Khalid Khan, an experienced CLO structurer from Deutsche Bank, and Dmitri Ladopoulous, a leveraged loan specialist from Fitch Ratings, the credit rating agency.

The firm’s launch comes amid a rush by other former sell-side debt bankers to launch new investment firms designed, in large part, to take advantage of the various dislocations in the credit markets. Structured finance is one of the most dislocated asset-classes.

Pearl Diver Capital primarily invests in leveraged loans and corporate credit backed structured products such as collateralised loan obligations, according to its website. The firm is “backed by stable and long-term private equity style institutional capital”.