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Avenue Appoints Richard Furst Chief Investment Officer

Avenue Capital Group LLC, the distressed-debt firm co-founded by Marc Lasry, has appointed Richard Furst as chief investment officer amid speculation that Lasry will be nominated as U.S. ambassador to France.

In his new post, Furst will oversee investment strategies for the firm globally, according to an e-mail to clients sent by Sonia Gardner, Avenue’s president and Lasry’s sister. Gardner didn’t mention Lasry in the letter, saying only she couldn’t comment on “media speculation.”

Todd Fogarty, a spokesman for Avenue Capital at Kekst & Co., declined to comment.

Former President Bill Clinton told guests at a fundraising event that Lasry will be nominated by President Barack Obama to be ambassador to France, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire reported March 14, citing an unidentified person who was in attendance.

Lasry, who emigrated to the U.S. from Morocco when he was 7 years old and whose mother taught French at a private school, gave a maximum of $30,800 in 2011 to support Obama’s re-election campaign. He is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and employed their daughter, Chelsea, as an analyst from 2006 to 2008. Last year, Lasry was part of a group of Wall Street executives who gathered at the White House as the administration sought to build support for a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

CIO Position

Lasry, who is chairman and chief executive officer of the firm, founded Avenue together with Gardner 18 years ago. While he provided investment oversight of the firm’s strategies for the past few years, the CIO position is new, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the firm is private.

Furst, a senior portfolio manager of Avenue’s Europe strategy, will continue to dedicate his time predominantly to leading those investments, according to the letter sent by Gardner. In his new role, Furst will spend a portion of his time providing “high-level investment oversight globally,” according to the letter.

Avenue, which had $11.7 billion in assets under management as of Feb. 28, invests in distressed and undervalued debt and equity globally. The firm in July raised $2.8 billion for its second European special-situations fund.

Fortune previously reported news of Furst’s appointment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sabrina Willmer in New York at swillmer2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net

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