08/07/2013

Standard General Co-Founder Is Moving On

The founders of Standard General, together since their days at Och-Ziff Capital, have parted ways.

Nicholas Singer, who launched the New York fund operation in 2007 with Soohyung Kim, resigned effective July 29, completing an amicable separation thatís been in the works since early 2012. His departure reflects the fact that Standard Generalís business increasingly is focused on liquid securities, which is Kimís bailiwick, while Singerís specialty is private equity-style investments.

ďWith the altered investment environment brought about by the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Standard Generalís investment strategy evolved to emphasize less-concentrated and more event-driven hedged investing across the capital structure,Ē the firm told investors in a July 31 letter announcing Singerís resignation. ďInvestors increasingly expressed their preference for opting out of participating in illiquid, side-pocket investments through the fund.Ē

Singer is contemplating his next move, including the possibility of starting his own firm.

Kim and Singer launched Standard General with a $100 million seed investment from Reservoir Capital, which continues to hold a minority stake in the firm. It currently manages $700 million, mostly in a fundamental long/short stock portfolio that is up about 12% year to date.

Singer started out at Goldman Sachs, where he quickly earned a reputation as something of a prodigy in the private equity arena. While still in his early 20s, he joined Och-Ziff, where he met Kim and Steve Friedman. When Friedman left to launch Cyrus Capital in 2004, he took Singer and Kim with him.

Singerís investments at Cyrus included a stake in Kansas City, Mo., energy company Aquila, where he took a seat on the board ó becoming the youngest person to hold a board seat at a Fortune 500 company.

Kim and Singer originally shared oversight of Standard General. But by early 2012, they agreed Kim would become sole chief investment officer to reflect the decreasing emphasis on private equity. By the end of the year, Kim also assumed the title of chief executive. Previously, Kim and Singer were co-presidents. In recent months, Singer, now 34, mainly has focused on managing a dwindling number of private equity positions.

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