Jim Dondero is the co-founder of Highlands Capital, a Dallas, TX based investment bank and hedge fund. Dondero began his career after graduating with honors from the McIntire School of Commerce, a part of the University of Virginia where he earned degrees in finance and accounting. He has earned the certified public accountant (CPA), certified management accountant (CMA), and chartered financial analyst (CFA) distinctions.
His first job was as an analysis in Morgan Guaranty’s training program. From there he went to work for American Express, first as a corporate bond analyst and was promoted to the position of a portfolio manager.
After several successful years with American Express, Dondero left there to accept a position with Protective Life to assist with the build-out of their GIC subsidiary. Within four years, Dondero was responsible for the management of over two billion dollars worth of assets. Before leaving GIC, Dondero was named the chief investment officer for the company.
In 1993, Dondero partnered with his co-founder Mark Okada to form Highlands Capital Management. Capitalizing on his strength as an innovator and resourcefulness in providing his clients with creative solutions for acquiring the capital they need to grow, Highlands has grown to have over $23 billion in assets under management. The firm has also been named one of the best companies to work for in the Dallas area where it is headquartered. Other officers are located through the world in New York City, São Paulo, Singapore, and Seoul. In total the company has almost 200 employees.
Highlands’ client list includes institutional investors, real estate investment trust (REIT’s), and private equity funds. In addition to providing his clients with capital, the firm also offers a wide range of investments to its investing clients including mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETF’s). Clients include companies in the healthcare, oil and gas, real estate, and emerging market sectors.
Dondero was the primary innovator of a capital credit solution known as the Collateralized Loan Obligation of CLO. These debt instruments are a basket of different company’s bonds picked for their creditworthiness, interest rate, maturity and other factors and bundled as a package for investors to purchase. The advantage for the investors is mainly risk mitigation and a steady and predictable payout schedule. The company’s seeking capital can benefit by leveraging their individual strengths with other firms while reducing the rates they would have to pay on their own.
Besides his work with Highlands Capital, Dondero is active in a number of other companies. He serves as the chairperson of Cornerstone Healthcare, CCS Medical, and Nexbank. He also serves as a board member of American Banknote and MGM Studios.
When not performing one of his many business obligations, Dondero is active in charities that work to improve education. Veteran’s affairs and public policy are other areas that Dondero is active in. In his private life, Dondero enjoys rock and roll music and has a reported taste for exotic meats. His home is one of the one hundred most expensive homes in the Dallas area.