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June 07, 2017  

Ex-Mason Pros Secure Backing From Moelis

An event-driven startup led by two former Mason Capital portfolio managers has lined up $100 million for the launch of its debut fund.

Alex Eiseman and Emilio Gomez-Villalva, who spent five years working together at Mason, plan to begin trading on Aug. 1 via their Zama Capital of New York. Their Zama Capital Advisors fund will target mid-cap companies grappling with litigation, political or regulatory changes, restructurings and other complex events, with an eye toward assembling a concentrated portfolio of equity and debt securities.

Most, if not all, of the fund’s day-one capital will come from a partnership led by Collegium Global, the hedge fund-seeding arm of Moelis Asset Management. Collegium’s principals and employees are chipping in, as are the firm’s joint-venture partners, fund-of-funds manager Voyager Management and placement agent Perkins Fund Marketing. In addition to seed money, Collegium and its partners offer a range of operational and technological support, marketing and investor-relations services, and advice on business development.

Eiseman and Gomez-Villalva intend to limit the size of Zama Capital Advisors to avoid the capacity constraints faced by large event-driven managers. An investor presentation, for example, notes there are fewer than 600 companies in the U.S. and Western Europe with market capitalizations of $5 billion to $10 billion. But there are more than 2,400 with market caps between $1 billion and $5 billion. The presentation also highlights the fact that large-cap companies draw coverage from more than 20 sell-side analysts, on average, while small-cap companies have fewer than five. In addition to the U.S. and Europe, the fund will invest in Latin America, with a particular focus on Argentina.

Zama is offering a founder’s share class that will charge a 1% management fee until the fund’s assets reach $500 million, at which point the fee would drop to zero. Investors in the founders class also would pay a 10% performance fee.

The investor presentation indicates the founders class has a capacity of $100 million, meaning it already may be full. Later investors would be placed in a share class with a 1.75% management fee and a 20% incentive fee. After a one-year lockup, limited partners would be permitted to withdraw once a quarter with notice of 60 days, subject to an investor-level gate of 25% of their assets per redemption period.

Before joining Mason in 2010, Eiseman worked at Catalyst Capital, Oaktree Capital and GE Capital. Gomez-Villalva was at Mason from 2006 to 2015, and before that worked in the engineering field.

Joining them at Zama are analyst Thomas Schweitzer and chief financial officer Justin Mauskopf. The firm plans to hire another analyst, a trader and an investor-relations professional.

Moelis Asset Management, a unit of investment bank Moelis & Co., was founded in 2007 to help launch alternative-investment businesses. In addition to Collegium, Moelis Asset Management own stakes in seven firms with combined assets under management of $3.3 billion as of Sept. 30, 2016.