PIMCO hires HIG exec for European distressed credit push

Lionel Laurant joins as executive vice-president and portfolio manager in London for PIMCO’s $24bn alternative assets arm from HIG’s Bayside Capital.   

California-based investment manager PIMCO has hired Lionel Laurant from private equity house HIG Capital to boost its deal-making in European distressed credit.

Laurant joins PIMCO as executive vice-president and portfolio manager, based in the group’s London office. He reports to Marc Seidner, chief investment officer for non-traditional strategies at the firm, which manages some $24 billion in alternative investments including distressed debt, out of a global asset pool of almost $1.5 trillion.

Laurant was previously a managing director at private equity firm HIG Capital, helping build up the firm’s European debt investment through its Bayside Capital arm.

“Lionel's experience and knowledge of the European market are a strong addition to our global team and we will continue to expand our expertise in this area to capitalize on opportunity on behalf of our clients,” Seidner said in a statement.

Pimco first set up its distressed and opportunistic credit platform in 2007. In the last couple of years it has been building up its capacity in Europe with deals for non-performing and non-core loans from the continent’s banks. In November last year it entered talks to create a platform to manage some €1.2 billion of loans with Italian bank Unicredit and local partners. But it also previously pulled out of a deal to acquire a large portfolio of Northern Irish property loans from Irish bad bank NAMA. That portfolio ultimately went to US distressed firm Cerberus.

PIMCO chief investment officer Daniel Ivascyn said the group still sees “excellent opportunities in both public and private distressed credit as the dislocation in the corporate markets continues to build”.

The firm’s push into potentially high-returning credit comes as it struggles with its core bond market trading. The group’s Total Return Fund lost its crown as the world’s largest bond fund in May last year to Vanguard’s Total Bond Market Index Fund, which overtook it with €117.3 billion of assets under management.