SEC's Former Top Hand on Mutual Funds to Join Kirkland & EllisBy
Norm Champ to advise private-equity managers on compliance
Ex-regulator spearheaded money fund reforms while at agency
Norm Champ, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission official who shaped rules meant to prevent runs on money-market mutual funds, is joining law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
Champ, 52, will become a New York-based partner advising private-equity firms on regulatory compliance and other strategic matters, the firm said Wednesday. The former director of the SEC’s Investment Management unit also will help clients navigate interactions with SEC examiners and guide them on stricter requirements in packaging products for retail investors, he said in an interview.
In joining Kirkland & Ellis, Champ becomes the second recent SEC division director to find his way through the so-called “revolving door” to the firm, whose client list includes Citadel Investment Group, KKR & Co., Oaktree Capital Management and Vista Equity Partners. Robert Khuzami, the SEC’s enforcement chief from 2009 to 2013, joined as a partner in the government and internal investigations practice after leaving the agency.
Champ, who has taught at Harvard Law School since leaving government a year ago, has completed a 12-month “cooling off” during which he was barred from reaching out to former colleagues at the SEC. He said his new job could involve advocating for clients as they comment to the SEC on pending regulations, but thinks his role will be much broader.
“Markets benefit from a guy like me who’s been in the industry and then spent five years in the government,” Champ said in an interview. “My experience can only help private funds with compliance questions and understanding of the rules.”
While at the SEC, Champ spearheaded effort to impose new rules on money market funds in response to one fund’s collapse that forced a temporary government guarantee during the 2008 financial crisis. Under the measures passed in 2014, funds that cater to institutional investors and purchase short-term bank debt were forced to abandon their stable $1-share value and allow their prices to float.
Champ, who is shopping a book to publishers about his five years at the SEC, has become an outspoken critic of Democrats including Hillary Clinton and some financial regulators since leaving the SEC last year. He often bashes the Federal Reserve, including over its decision to keep benchmark interest rates near zero for nearly seven years in an effort to stimulate the U.S. economy in the wake of the financial crisis.
“Current junk bonds decline natural result of Fed policies on rates and capital tests,” he said in a Twitter post last month, shortly after a fund specializing in distressed debt, the Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund, blocked clients from pulling out their money.
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