Och-Ziff’s European Investing Head Michael Cohen to Leave

Michael Cohen, head of European investing at Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (OZM), plans to step down after 15 years at the $35 billion hedge fund, the firm said today in a regulatory filing.

Cohen, a U.S. citizen based in London, will leave Och-Ziff (OZM) at the end of the month, according to the filing. He plans to take some time off before deciding what to do next, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. His responsibilities will be taken over by David Windreich, the New York-based head of U.S. investing.

Cohen, 41, is resigning after more than two years of market volatility in Europe that has confounded traders trying to predict what policy makers will do next and how political decisions will affect prices for stocks and bonds. Och-Ziff’s OZ Europe Master Fund rose 8.6 percent last year after losing 4.9 percent in 2011, according to company statements.

“We thank Michael for his leadership and his many contributions to the firm over the past 15 years, including his significant role in developing our European business,” said Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for the New York-based firm. “We wish Michael all the best.”

Och-Ziff, run by Daniel Och, is known for its multi- strategy hedge funds that make bets on everything from rising and falling stock prices to mergers and bankruptcies. The firm has about 65 employees in London, including two executive managing directors and 13 managing directors.

Ucits Fund

Cohen’s responsibilities include overseeing a so-called Ucits fund focused on European investing and sold to clients of Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit. The pool gained 10.7 percent last year and lost 8.8 percent in 2011 after starting trading in April of that year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Hedge funds rose 6.4 percent on average last year and declined 6.8 percent in the final nine months of 2011, according to data from Hedge Fund Research Inc. Ucits funds comply with European regulations known by the acronym for Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities. The vehicles allow clients to withdraw money in as little as a day, place restrictions on leverage and give investors details of holdings in a similar way to mutual funds.

Separately, Och-Ziff named Jimmy Levin head of global credit, part of a push into debt-investing strategies to attract more clients, said the person. Och, 52, told investors and analysts on a conference call last month that the firm sees “substantial room for growth” in credit and will be adding employees.

Och, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) trader, left the firm in 1994 to start a hedge fund for Ziff Brothers Investments LLC, which managed the Ziff family’s publishing fortune. He oversaw money solely for the Ziffs for five years before opening his fund to outside investors in 1999.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Westbrook in London at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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