While the bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. shops assets from its private equity business, talent is heading out the door. Goran Puljic, former head of Lehman's structured credit investments group, has bolted for Oak Hill Advisors LP, where he will co-lead structured products with Jason Serrano. Puljic, 43, brings two other Lehman managers, T.K. Narayan and Scott Snell.
Under the umbrella of Lehman's private equity group, Puljic and his team since 2002 managed about $2 billion of structured credit assets such as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs. At Oak Hill, which manages about $10 billion in committed capital, Puljic plans to combine his new firm's credit knowledge with his expertise in structured products. Oak Hill already has a team that specializes in structured products, especially mortgages, in addition to structured credit. With Puljic, Oak Hill can invest across a broader spectrum of the products, including aircraft leasing and home equity.
Only two weeks on the job, Puljic says he's already made a few investments. "It is great to see the theory become a reality." The transition was easy, since Lehman has invested in Oak Hill funds. "We have known the people here for many years," says Puljic, "and we were therefore able to hit the ground running." Indeed, Puljic went straight from Lehman to Oak Hill without a day off in between. "The markets are not allowing many people to take vacations," he says.
After graduating from Columbia University in 1986, Puljic started his career at Morgan Stanley, trading interest rate derivatives. In 1991, he went to Lehman Brothers where he ran its asset swap business. Puljic also did nine years at Goldman, Sachs & Co., which included two years in Frankfurt running the German fixed-income division during a dramatic time for the financial center. "When I got there everything was in deutsche marks, and when I left everything was in euros," Puljic says.
In 2002, Lehman lured him with the opportunity to join the buy side. "I like the responsibility of managing money," says Puljic, who describes his time at Lehman as "great." He sees the buy side as more stable than investment banking right now. "There will always be people who manage money," says Puljic, who also envisions a shakeup in investment management. "It is a matter of capital flow. There will be winners and losers," says Puljic, adding that "some people are going to come out of it stronger, and some people are going to come out weaker.
"Oak Hill will be one of the winners when it comes to the reshuffling of the deck," says Puljic.