London-based global asset manager Fidelity International has unveiled a major expansion of its activities in the private credit market, announcing 12 new hires including senior new appointments in the area of direct leading.
As part of the broader build-out of the USD777 billion firm’s private assets capability, Fidelity’s private credit team was established in early 2021 to launch a full range of loan and private credit strategies.
In November last year, the team launched Fidelity’s first collateralised loan obligation (CLO), the Fidelity Grand Harbour 2021, aligned to SFDR Article 8 requirements, which was a first for the industry. Future launches will focus on further expanding the European loan and CLO platform, as well as a focus on structured credit and European direct lending.
Michael Curtis, head of private credit strategies at Fidelity International, says: “Fidelity entered the private credit market in early 2021 and subsequently launched its first SFDR Article 8 aligned CLO in November 2021. Since then, we have invested heavily in growing the team to ensure we have the right level of support and technical expertise to help drive our ambitious expansion plans as we diversify into new areas such as direct lending.”
Andrew McCaffery, Fidelity International’s global CIO, adds: “A growing, and broader, profile of investors are joining the structural trend to add and increase private assets allocations within their portfolios, and we expect this to expand further over time. We are committed to building a broad private assets business across a wide range of capability areas. Using our bottom-up research process, we will continue to leverage our global research capability and established public markets sustainability methodology to bring an effective ESG approach to private markets.”
McCaffery continues: “To support our growth plans, it’s important we attract and invest in experienced talent, as we have done with the private credit team. More broadly, our private assets business continues to grow at pace, and we have now hired close to 70 dedicated employees across various functions over the past year.”
Among the key new hires, Marc Preiser has joined the Fidelity International Private Credit team as portfolio manager and will focus on developing and launching a direct lending offering. He joins after five years with Apollo Global Management, where he developed and managed Apollo’s direct lending business in Europe, and brings a proven track record in building private credit businesses with over 20 years’ investing in middle market direct lending opportunities at Apollo, MidCap Financial and Merrill Lynch Capital.
Raphael Charon has joined as head of origination for direct leading. He previously 10 years at Bank of Ireland where he held the position of deputy global head of leveraged and acquisition finance and CEO France, bringing extensive experience in originating and assessing complex transactions in the European midmarket space. Prior to this Charon held senior roles in leveraged finance origination and capital markets at RBS and HSBC.
Pierluigi Volini will lead credit risk management and portfolio oversight across private credit strategies. He is an experienced illiquid and liquid corporate credit investment professional with a track record of over 20 years deploying capital in European sub-investment grade corporate debt across special situations, distressed debt, high yield and leveraged loans. Volini joins from Credit Suisse where he spent 10 years as head of European special situations desk strategy – having previously held similar roles at Barclays, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs.
Tim Johnston joins as managing director for direct lending from Beechbrook Capital, where he was a partner. Johnston brings 15 years’ experience of originating, executing, and monitoring transactions in the UK direct lending market. He has completed more than 30 transactions across a wide range of sectors and has held board observer roles at more than 15 investee companies. Prior to Beechbrook, worked at ICG and at PwC.
Ben Forman has also joined Fidelity’s private credit team as director of direct lending to help develop and launch the firm’s direct lending initiative, bringing 20 years of experience. Forman was previously a director in the leveraged and acquisition finance team at Mizuho Bank, where he led complex financings for mid-cap and large-cap private equity sponsors across Europe. He also has prior experience in restructurings and workouts, successfully completing several restructuring processes in his time at Mizuho. Before joining Mizuho, he worked at Dresdner Kleinwort in M&A.
And Mikko Iso-Kulmala has been appointed as a private credit investment director from Barings, where he spent nine years in the high yield and leveraged loan team. At Barings, he looked after the client portfolio management for the franchise, as well as most recently overseeing the investment business management aspects for the team. He helped the firm to grow into one of the European loan managers, working on a number of private credit offerings whilst also helping to build out special situations credit business and focusing on the CLO franchise. Prior to this, he worked at JP Morgan Asset Management.