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A Star Goldman Trader Goes Cold

  • Savarese trades demonstrate how bank still stomachs volatility
  • Peabody Energy bonds had contributed to a trading-desk rebound
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Adam Savarese was looking to make a splash in his new job as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s top distressed-debt trader last year, and found it in Peabody Energy Corp.

The coal miner was hurtling toward bankruptcy. Savarese snagged its unsecured bonds for pennies on the dollar and rode them up for one of 2016’s most successful trades, according to people familiar with the desk and its wagers. It was risky: Some peers at other banks played it safer with secured bonds, which offered greater protection, though a smaller upside. But Savarese’s blockbuster Peabody move helped engineer a rebound on a desk buffeted by losses and the departure of senior leaders.