04/27/2012

Swiss Re Alumni Launching Fund Outfit

Anthony Contessa, who oversaw Swiss Re’s efforts to unwind a massive portfolio of distressed structured products during the financial crisis, left the reinsurer last month to start a hedge fund.

He has teamed up with one of his lieutenants at Swiss Re, trader David Shaw, to form Second Bridge Capital in New York. They are preparing a vehicle that would invest in residential and commercial mortgage bonds, with a focus on distressed securities.

At Swiss Re, Contessa led a five-member team tasked with liquidating asset-backed securities, mortgage bonds and collateralized debt obligations. Swiss Re launched the effort in early 2009, at the height of the credit crisis.

With the portfolio now mostly liquidated, Swiss Re recently disbanded Contessa’s team. All five staffers have left the company. One of them, Matt Lewis, has since landed at NewOak Capital of New York, while another, Andrew Weiss, has taken a job with Western Asset Management of Los Angeles.

Contessa spent about seven years at Swiss Re before being put in charge of the financial-crisis team. Shaw, who clocked 11 years at the reinsurer, specialized in trading U.S. and European commercial MBS.

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