James Dondero was a pioneer in collateralized loan obligations in the 1990’s, an asset class that many even in the investment management field hadn’t heard of at the time. His success with this building Highland Capital Management into a company that managed over $15 billion in alternative assets. He had co-founded this company in 21993 along with his business partner, Mark Okada. His willingness to make bold moves has resulted in a great deal of success, including making a lot of money off of a Texas energy company that had gone bankrupt and in which even legendary investor Warren Buffett had lost money.
For a person who makes such type of bold investments, James Dondero is surprisingly soft-spoken. He avoids talking about himself, and when asked in an interview what his greatest strength was as an investor, he credited it to “puzzle solving“. He says that’s his way of figuring out complex debt deals, ways to turn around a moribund company, and spot emerging trends which is when the most can be made out of an investment. One of Highland Capital Mangement’s funds, HCOAX, is made up of some of James Dondero’s best ideas. The fund was up a startling 29.6% over the course of the last year and now has $894 million invested in it.
James Dondero is a graduate of the University of Virginia, earning his B.S. in Commerce (Accounting and Financing). He graduated from his university with the highest honors. He also has a number of financial certifications including Chartered Financial Analyst, Certified Management Accountant, and Certified Public Accountant.
In addition to his top role at Highland Capital Management, James Dondero serves on the board of a number of other companies. He is Chairman of the Board for Nexbank, CCS Medical, and Corner Healthcare. He also serves on the board for MGM Studios and American Banknote. He started his career in 1985 as a Corporate Bond Analyst for American Express and later served as a Portfolio Manager of a $1 billion fixed income bond fund.