Highland Capital Management: Meet Private Equity Fund Powerhouse James Dondero


Established by Mark Okada and James Dondero in 1993, private equity giant Highland Capital Management is a pioneering brand. It acquired controlling assets valued at over $18.7 billion according to last year’s fiscal report. The firm specializes in alternative invest products ranging from structured investments to hedge funds. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Highland Capital Management has expanded its network to Singapore, New York, and London. It manages a group of subsidiaries, including HCD (Highland Distressed-Opportunities), HCF (Highland Credit-Strategy Fund) and other investment options. The firm manages a variety of structured investment products, leveraged loans and high-yield bonds in hedging markets. With an interest in international public equity, Highland Capital Management caters to fixed income investing as well.

The firm manages natural resources, distressed credit, private equities, CLOs (Collateralized Loan Obligations) and more. As a trusted asset management advisor, it has the industry’s best professional credit management team. Highland caters to mutual fund stakeholders, pension plans, financial institutions, government sector officials and other high-profile investors. The firm’s current president and controlling partner James Dondero is a celebrated entrepreneur. He’s a UOV (University-of-Virginia) graduate who received the highest honors (Beta-Alpha Psi and Beta-Gamma Sigma). He also attained Finance and Accounting qualifications from the prominent McIntire-School-of-Commerce. In addition, Dondero is a licensed CFA (Chartered-Financial-Analyst) and CMA (Certified-Management-Accountant).

With over 30 years managing equity and credit accounts in different financial markets, Dondero has built an expansive investors’ network. He primarily invests in distressed and high-yield opportunities. Dondero pursued an opportunity to advance his career by becoming an analyst and began training with the Morgan-Guaranty program in 1984. He’s delivered award-winning performance in managing private equities, ETFs, personal investor’s accounts, mural/hedge funds, REITs and more. As a top-ranked adviser with a global presence in different financial markets, including credit-oriented investment solutions and CLOs.

Besides his principal role as CEO and president at Highland, Dondero chairs Cornerstone Healthcare, Nexbank, and CCS Medical. Additionally, he’s an MGM Studios and American Banknote board member. As an accomplished philanthropist, Dondero has funded and sponsored numerous public policy, education initiatives and veteran’s affairs. He’s assumed multiple key positions in organizations and corporations. In 1989 to 1993, he organized the development efforts of GIC, a division of Protective Life. He also served American Express as a Corporate-Bond Analyst before becoming a portfolio manager.

HCM (Highland-Capital-Management) has undergone a series of transformations since its initial inception in 1993. The firm’s credit management team has brilliant minds within its midst. In 1990, business colleagues Dondero and Okada established an arm of PLIC (Protective-Life-Insurance-Corporation). It was a subsidiary specializing in high-priority fixed income investments, including SSBLs (senior secured-secured bank loans) and more. Later, it became PAMCO (Protective-Asset-Management-Company). With this SEC-registered firm, an estimated 40% of the shareholders are founding partners and Protective Life owns the remaining 60%.

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