Avenue’s Lasry may get ambassadorship

It is unclear what co-founder Marc Lasry’s departure would mean for Avenue Capital. Pensions documents list him as a key man on the firm’s most recent special situations fund.

Avenue Capital Group appears to be preparing for the possible departure of co-founder and chief executive officer Marc Lasry, who is expected to be nominated for the US Ambassadorship to France, according to multiple press reports. 

Firm president and managing director Sonia Gardner recently sent a letter to inform investors of the promotion of senior portfolio manager Richard Furst to the role of chief investment officer. Furst’s responsibilities would include overseeing the firm’s investment strategies, responsibilities Lasry undertook over the last few years, according to a source with knowledge of the firm. The letter, which was seen by PEI, vaguely referenced ongoing speculation surrounding the firm but did not mention the ambassadorship.

Furst would continue lead the firm’s Europe strategy in his new role. 

Marc Lasry

It is unclear what Lasry’s departure would mean for Avenue’s private equity funds, and whether the ambassadorship would trigger a key man event. He is listed as a key professional on California Public Employees’ Retirement System documents that detail a $150 million commitment to Avenue Special Situations Fund VI, a $1.9 billion 2011 vintage. A separate document from the Public School Employees’ Retirement System of Pennsylvania lists Lasry as the sole manager of Fund VI. 

Lasry and Gardner founded Avenue in 1995. The firm manages approximately $12.2 billion in assets. 

Former President Bill Clinton disclosed Lasry’s likely appointment at a pair of fundraisers last week, where he encouraged those in attendance to congratulate the longtime Democratic donor on the ambassadorship, according to a Wall Street Journal report. POLITICO has also reported on Lasry’s likely ambassadorship. 

The US Department of State declined to comment on this story. A spokesperson for Avenue Capital also declined to comment.  

Lasry’s appointment as the US Ambassador to France would be subject to the approval of the US Senate, where the Democrats hold a strong majority. 

The Avenue Capital co-founder is a longtime Democratic Party supporter, having donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the party’s candidates and political action committees since the late 1990s, according to Federal Election Commission filings.