James Dondero And Highland Capital Management

James Dondero co-founded Highland Capital Management with Mark Okada in 1993. Today, Highland Capital Management manages approximately $22 billion in assets and is one of the most experienced global alternative credit managers.

Ben Hider / INSIDER IMAGES

Jim graduated with highest honors from the University of Virginia with an emphasis in accounting and finance. Hebegan his career as an analyst in the Morgan Guaranty training program. Jim then became a Corporate Bond Analyst and then Portfolio Manager at American Express from 1985 to 1989.Prior to founding Highland, Mr. Dondero was the Chief Investment Officer for GIC, a subsidiary of Protective Life. As a result of the success in the GIC business, Protective Life then seeded and helped launch the asset management business in 1993.

During this time, the United States was still recovering from the Savings & Loan crisis and the bankruptcy of Drexel Burnham Lambert. James pioneered the integration of bank loans asa true, fixed-income alternative asset. Historically, bank loans were not marked and were held to maturity by qualified banking institutions.Jim’s deep credit research proved to be extremely additive and created a competitive advantage for the firm by helping identify opportunities that had previously been oversold and undervalued.

“Our first CLO in 1996 was a challenge and yet a major accomplishment. At the time, there were very few non-bank investors. Basically, there were a few mutual funds and us. We now have more than $11 billion in AUM within the CLO space,” said James Dondero

Today, Highland Capital Management offers a multitude of solutions for both institutional and retail investors. The firm is committed to delivering alpha and providing value to investors through unique and differentiated product offerings. Many of these products have been recognized by leading publications while highlighting Jim’s commitment to the workplace.

A few examples include:
  • 2015 CreditFlux Best CLO fund
  • 2014 Morningstar Awards Five-Star Rating for Global Allocation
  • 2014 Morningstar #1 Ranked Healthcare Long/Short Equity Fund
  • 2014 Highland Floating Rate Opportunities Fund Receives Lipper Award
  • 2014 Wall Street Journal Category King for Global Allocation
  • 2015 Best Place to Work Dallas Business Journal
  • 2014 Pensions & Investments Best Place to Work

While James has received numerous accolades for his work in the financial sector, it is his work with non-profits that has generated some of his most satisfying returns. In 2014, Highland Capital Management awarded a $1 million challenge grant to Snowball Express, an organization which provides service and support to children of the nation’s fallen military heroes.

Jim also awarded $2 million to Southern Methodists University’s Tower Scholars Program. Jim and Highland Capital Management have gone on to support a multitude of other meaningful organizations, including the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reserve Aid, Uplift Education, Reasoning Mind, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Capital for Kids and the Dallas Zoo just to name a few.

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