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Fortress Said to Take Over Management of Zwirn Assets

Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Author: Pierre Paulden, Katherine Burton and Jody Shenn, Bloomberg

Fortress Investment Group LLC, the New York-based manager of about $29 billion, was picked to take over the liquidation of D.B. Zwirn & Co.ís $2.5 billion in hedge-fund assets, people familiar with the decision said.

Zwirnís board and some of its biggest investors chose Fortress, a New York-based private equity and hedge-fund manager, out of nine candidates including a group headed by Irish financier Desmond Dermot, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Daniel Zwirn, 37, who runs the New York-based company, told investors in February 2008 he planned to wind down his flagship D.B. Zwirn Special Opportunities Fund LP. The fund makes loans to companies including those that have trouble getting financing elsewhere. Zwirn decided to close the fund when investors asked to withdraw more than $2 billion after a delay in the release of the fundís 2006 financial audit.

Fortressís takeover would mark the end of Zwirnís involvement with his seven-year-old firm, which managed $5.5 billion at its peak. Zwirn, who will be paid $1.95 million by the fund in deferred compensation from 2008, used $13 million of his own money to run the company since October, the people said.

Brian Maddox, Zwirnís spokesman, and Lilly Donohue, a Fortress spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The transfer of assets to Fortress must be approved by a majority of investors. Fortress will keep Zwirnís remaining employees, the people said.


Fortress, founded in 1998, will be reimbursed for costs of winding down the fund, plus 1 percent of the fundís net assets, the people said. It also will get 5 percent of any profit it makes. Zwirnís investors will pay more than $21 million in one- time fees associated with the liquidation of assets.

The fund also will set aside $15 million to pay any future claims or fines. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission started investigating the company after Zwirn told investors in early 2007 that an internal probe found improper financial transfers and expense accounting.

Zwirn previously was a managing director and senior investment manager overseeing special opportunities for Highbridge Capital Management LLC. Earlier, he was a portfolio manager at MSD Capital LP, the money manager for Michael Dell, founder of Round Rock, Texas-based personal-computer maker Dell Inc.

To contact the reporters on this story: Pierre Paulden in New York at ppaulden@bloomberg.net; Katherine Burton in New York at kburton@bloomberg.net; Jody Shenn in New York at jshenn@bloomberg.net